Monday, June 26, 2017

The new generational culture war

Despite the outcome of the election, I think it is a very healthy thing for the future of British democracy that many young people appear to have learned the lesson from the Brexit referendum that political decisions can affect their future and that it is a good idea to vote.

Now we have to make sure the Conservatives say something positive to them, as well as being a bit more willing to point out the many serious holes in Labour's claims - for instance, the idea that they would have a cat in hell's chance of being able to fund the promise to scrap tuition fees and return to student grants, let alone cancel the loans to those who have already graduated.

How many young voters who voted Labour in 2017 knew that Labour had said during the 1997 election that they would fund higher education in a different way, but then introduced Tuition fees?

Or that Labour fought the 2001 election on a clear and specific promise not to increase them, and then did? A broken promise every bit as clear-cut as Nick Clegg's on the same subject in 2010. In fact, pretty much exactly the same breach of exactly the same promise.

It isn't the fault of people who were toddlers when Labour previously broke similar but much less expensive promises than the ones they were making again in 2017 if they didn't know that Labour has form for making such promises and breaking them - we should have told them.

There will be some people we can never convince and others who will not recognise the truth until their ideas collide with reality the hard way. But I refuse to believe that all young people are too foolish to listen.

Nevertheless what we are seeing is what amounts to an inter-generational culture war.

There is an interesting piece by Stephen Daisley on his blog, which first appeared in the Scottish Mail, about this generational culture war, "Children of Corbyn go to war against their parents."

Here is an extract:

"For all the talk of a voter backlash against austerity, those most acutely affected by it — the low skilled and low paid — went for the Tories. Despite his enthusiasm for Venezuelan-style command economics, Jeremy Corbyn won over swathes of Middle Britain.

The shift is not one of economics so much as values, tearing up the tarmac of assumptions and conventions on which British politics has run for generations. Labour and the Tories once chased the votes of Essex Man and Worcester Woman; the latest battleground is for the support of Kensington Corbynistas, the sort of electors who turned the safe London Tory seat red on June 8.

The new centre ground is young, university-educated, and socially progressive. They were raised without religion; view faith as part mania, part hate crime; and spent four years in lecture halls being taught that the West is racist and men who blow up Tel Aviv nightclubs have a point.

They don’t buy a daily newspaper, get their information from partisan and sometimes conspiracy-minded websites, and were baffled that older voters were so upset about Corbyn and the IRA. Didn’t grandpa know it was Jeremy who secured peace in Northern Ireland? They have never heard of the Good Friday Agreement and don’t get what was so Good about Friday in the first place.

Where their elders could not vote for Corbyn because of his support for terrorists and comradeship with anti-Semites, the 2017 generation would only have been put off if he’d been caught using the wrong gender pronoun.

For these voters the election was as much a clash of cultures as a clash of ideas. Their politics is impressionistic and fleeting, animated less by reasoned argument or an overarching philosophy than by a series of impulses and attitudes. Immigration is an unquestionable good; Western arrogance, not Islamism, is to blame for terrorism; bankers are wicked and corporate giants deserve to have their shop front windows smashed as long as protestors feel strongly enough about something.

Assumptions such as these are jealously held and considered by the new generation to be axiomatic; no one, they figure, could possibility disagree with them unless they are an irredeemable bigot. This is a politics of moral preferences in which no one is permitted to prefer other moral viewpoints."

You can read the whole article here.


Anonymous said...

What about all those over 50s who voted for JC and welcomed a return to Labour values?

Chris Whiteside said...

It is certainly true that some over 50's voted Labour thought it was my experience on the doorstep that the older the Labour voter you were speaking to the more likely it was that they were voting Labour in spite of Jeremy Corbyn rather than because of him.

Equally it is also true that there were plenty of voters in their teens and twenties who voted Conservative.

The evidence suggest that more older voters went Conservative and more younger voters open for Labour, NOT that all older voters were Conservative or that all younger voters were Labour. We are talking about a generalisation, not a rule that applied to everyone.

And as Dumas said, "all generalisations are dangerous including this one."

It is also very clear that more younger electors turned out and voted, which suggests that an important lesson has been learned from the Brexit vote, and the fact that more younger voters actually used their vote is in principle a very healthy thing for the future of democracy in Britain regardless of whether I personally agree with how the majority of them used their vote.