Left-wing activists struggling to understand why they fail to excite 18-30-year-olds – the “missing million” Hone and Laila’s New Alliance Party and #rockethevote are supposed to engage – might gain insight from a 2013 study by Ipsos Mori discussed on a recent BBC Radio 4 programme and by Yamir Ash at Spiked. It seems that, Generation Y, which has endured more cotton-wool and in-school state indoctrination than any other, is rebelling. The left has lost Gen Y, says Ash.
According to the study, ‘Generation Y [18- to 30-year-olds] is more likely… to believe the role of the state should be more focused on providing opportunities and less on managing the risks individuals face. This suggests that Generation Y is a more individualist generation than the others, more concerned with personal independence and opportunity.’
Putting aside the rather trite conclusion that views on welfare alone mark the difference between left and right, the findings of this survey do raise an important issue: the inability of the modern left to engage with Generation Y. While, in times past, being left-wing was bound up with ideas of opportunity and social mobility, the left’s present incarnations have patronised and alienated ambitious young people. Policies implying that young people are incapable of self sufficiency, and are in need of constant guidance, vigilance and support have suffocated a generation…
Smother kids with statist cotton wool and they rebel. That’s a hopeful sign.
The portrayal of young people today as the ‘jilted generation’ in left-leaning media outlets has further reinforced the idea that today’s youth need to be looked after and nursed into a stable life through governmental paternalism. This runs entirely counter to the findings of the Ipsos Mori study. Its research reveals a generation with an enterprising spirit and a strong belief in its own capabilities.
Not sure Laila’s lefties are going to be able to entice them back, and more than the dullard Davids will. And despite the wall-to-wall greenism youngsters receive at school, it still doesn’t translate into overwhelming numbers for Russel Norman.
So if true, this is a hopeful sign. The job for non-statists, if they wish to capitalise, is themselves to be able to articulate the clear argument against the statist status quo into which Gen Y’s sullen rebellion can tune in.