It was a piece of news to gladden the heart at the end of a depressing 2014 – young people are more worried about the rising cost of living, unemployment and the NHS than immigration. They don’t seem that concerned about the EU either.
The revelation comes from a post-Christmas survey of 18-25 year olds carried out by the think tank Demos, and if politicians had any sense it should be a cause for alarm. Young people are not buying the lie about the need for austerity and cut backs, or that other whopper that immigrants are to blame for the deterioration in standards and services. In addition, they remain convinced that the country is being run by too many privileged white men in grey suits, and that there is too much surveillance.
The media seemed taken aback that youngsters are so off message about the issues it screams about and those it prefers to pass over or obfuscate. That’s because the press fail to understand that young people don’t like tuition fees, they don’t like graduating and ending up stacking shelves in Tesco, they don’t like paying through the nose for a roof over their heads, they don’t like the prospect of a lifetime of debt and they don’t like being told they should be grateful for what they’ve got. In short, they know they are being trashed right, left and centre – and they don’t like it.
There are a number of reasons for this. Firstly, they use the social media as an alternative source of information and news, secondly they are partly insulated from the mind numbing effects of mass entertainment and advertising because they watch less and less TV, and thirdly they have parents like me who tell them about life in olden times: when education was free, when you could fly the nest at 18, set up home and even think about having children before the age of 30, when you could leave one job in the morning and get another in the afternoon, when you could look forward to retirement on a pension, when public services like libraries were considered sacrosanct and when the fireworks display in London at New Year was free.
The fact that these hail and hearty youngsters care in such numbers about the NHS suggests that they are able to see the bigger picture. So it would be no surprise to me that, if asked, they would have indicated they don’t like their world being trashed (climate change) and they don’t like foreigners being trashed (war) either.
These are tomorrow’s people. By the time they are fully mature those running, or should I say, ruining, the country will be in their (private) retirement homes, too feeble to defend themselves when called to account. Tomorrow’s people already believe another world is possible and, like the parents of today, want a better future for their children and grandchildren.
Happy New Year.