A recent report by the Resolution Foundation based on a survey of 2000 people aged 16-75 found that the vast majority of people are pessimistic about the prospects for young people.
In total, 21% of respondents believed Millennials (those born between 1981 and 2000) could expect to enjoy a better standard of living than their parents.
However young people are less pessimistic than older people: around 33% of young people think they will have a better life than their parents, while only 15% of older people said they’d rather be a young person growing up today.
The main points of the report include:
There is widespread pessimism about young people’s lives compared to those of their parents
Graduates, unemployed people and Labour voters are among the most pessimistic
Housing, jobs and retirement living standards are the areas of greatest concern
People believe that housing and jobs market failures are the key causes of this situation, with relatively little blame placed on the actions of generations themselves
People believe that government actions can make a difference, with addressing broad economic challenges and improving public services the top priorities
It’s important to remember that these are just the opinions of people – this data actually tells us nothing about the ACTUAL life chances of Millennials compared to their parents. However, what the last two findings suggest is that there is not such support for small state neoliberal policies – people seem to want government assistance to maintain living standards.
But then again the population go and vote the Tories in – which suggests either that the public is very confused about politics or that these opinion polls aren’t especially valid!
In the recent June 2017 General Election, Labour won more votes than it did in 2001, 2005, 2010 or 2015, proving almost all the forecasts and commentators wrong.According to this Guardian article there are three main reasons for this…
It motivated young people to get out and vote.
A lot’s been made of the historically high turnout by 18-24 year olds…. It looks like in key constituencies – from Harrow West to Canterbury (a seat that has been Conservative since 1918) – the youth vote was vital. Labour showed it cared about young people by promising to scrap tuition fees, an essential move to stop the marketisation of higher education, and it proposed a house-building programme that would mean many more could get on the property ladder.
This is in stark contrast to the two other major parties – the Lib Dems in 2010 under Nick Clegg lied to them, and the Conservatives have attacked them – cutting housing benefits for 18- to 21-year-olds, excluding under-25s from the minimum wage rise and slashing the education maintenance allowance. At this election, Theresa May offered nothing to young people in her manifesto. Their message was: put up with your lot. Under the Tories, young people have been taken for granted and sneered at as too lazy to vote.
The NUS reported a 72% turnout by young people, and there is a definite thread in the media attributing the swing towards Labour as down to this.
However, this is contested by Jack Sommors in this article who suggests that it was middle-aged people who swung the election result away from the Tories.
‘Lord Ashcroft’s final poll, which interviewed 14,000 people from Wednesday to Friday last week, found people aged 35 to 44 swung to Labour – 50% voted for them while just 30% voted for the Tories. This is compared to 36% of them voting Labour and 26% backing the Tories just two years ago’.
A further two reasons which might explain the swing, let’s say among the younger half of the voting population, rather than just the very youngest are:
Labour offered localised politics, not a marketing approach
Labour rejected the marketing approach to politics in favour of a strong, localised grassroots campaign… this was not simply an election May lost; it was one in which Corbyn’s Labour triumphed. Labour proposed collectivism over individualism and a politics that people could be part of.
Labour offered a genuine alternative to neoliberalism…
Labour offered a positive agenda to an electorate that’s been told its only choice is to swallow the bitter pill of neoliberalism – offering a decisive alternative to Tory austerity in the shape of a manifesto packed with policies directly challenging what has become the economic status quo in the UK. Labour no longer accepted the Tory agenda of cuts (a form of economics long ago abandoned in the US and across Europe): it offered investment in public services, pledged not to raise taxes for 95% of the population, talked about a shift to a more peaceful foreign policy, promised to take our rail, water and energy industries out of shareholders’ hands and rebalance power in the UK.
So how is this relevant to A-level Sociology…?
In terms of values…It seems to show a widespread rejection of neoliberal ideas among the youth, and possibly evidence that neoliberal policies really have damaged most people’s young people’s (and working class people’s) life chances, and this result is a rejection of this.
In terms of the media… It’s a reminder that the mainstream media doesn’t reflect public opinion accurately- just a thin sliver of the right wing elite. It also suggests that the mainstream media is losing its power to shape public opinion and behavior, given the negative portrayals of Corbyn in the mainstream. .
Value-Freedom and explaining election results…
The above article is written with a clearly left-leaning bias. Students may like to reflect on whether it’s actually possible to explain the dramatic voter swing towards Labour objectively, and how you might go about getting valid and representative data on why people voted like they did, given that there are so many possible variables feeding into the outcome of this election?!
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