Why age is the new dividing line in politics

Why age is the new dividing line in politics

Higher education has inculcated young people with entirely different values to their elders.

Frank Furedi


The General Election demonstrated yet again that the most important division in UK politics is between old and young. Survey after survey indicates that there is a stark difference in the voting behaviour of the generations. According to a recent YouGov survey, 56 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted for Labour, while 57 per cent of 60- to 69-year-olds supported the Tories. Other surveys confirm that traditional class and party loyalties are trumped by the generational divide.

The generation gap in party support has a long history. It is well known that people tend to adopt more conservative views as they get older. And in recent decades, age has become a strong predictor of how someone is likely to vote in an election. But this pattern has become particularly pronounced during the past decade. The theme of generational conflict was far more pronounced during and in the aftermath of the Brexit referendum, and the 2017 election, than previously.

This politicisation of demography was highlighted and celebrated by the media at every turn in 2017. Commentators argued that the youth were ‘flexing their muscles’ in an act of revenge against the old codgers who support Brexit. The youth vote for Jeremy Corbyn was frequently portrayed as the beginning of a more radical political turn. This sentiment has been constantly reiterated in recent months, when the so-called climate rebellion has often been framed as an integral feature of a generational conflict.

This all has important implications for public life. Unlike disputes over economic and social issues, conflicts over cultural values deepen the psychic and moral distance between people.

Now, the claim that the youth have become uniquely radicalised is something of an exaggeration. Rather, there are important generational differences that are more cultural than political. These differences are particularly pronounced in relation to attitudes towards nation, community, identity, the environment, and the sense of self.

Differences in cultural attitudes have profound implications for the way that intergenerational relations are conducted. The British cultural establishment, which has a hegemonic influence over the young, constantly encourages young people to feel put-upon by their selfish elders. They are continually told that their future is likely to be far more insecure and worse than that of previous generations. The constant denigration of grown-ups has fostered a climate in which it has become acceptable to regard the elderly with contempt.

Old people are stereotyped as backward and ignorant. They have been cast in the role of narrow-minded bigots who possess archaic prejudices. Their attitude and behaviour are unfavourably contrasted with the enlightened, cosmopolitan and caring outlook of the young. This positive representation of young people is promoted by the authors of Cultural Backlash, who insist that enlightened and socially liberal values are gaining greater and greater traction among the young. These young people are supposedly digging the graves of the nasty, authoritarian, xenophobic politics of their elders.

Numerous commentators appear to believe that the political behaviour of young people constitutes an important act of rebellion against the values of the older generations. Such commentaries often suggest that the young have become more and more politically engaged, politicised, and even radicalised. But what defines the voting behaviour of young people is not so much radicalism as the politics of conformism.

Young people’s politics are strongly influenced by the values and attitudes that they have internalised through the dominant institutions of culture – such as the media, schools and universities. The current pattern of socialisation has relegated the role of the family to a secondary, supporting role. A shift away from the family socialising young people to schools and universities socialising young people has encouraged generational estrangement.

The school curriculum is devoted to distancing children from the traditional values of their families and communities. Schools carefully police the cultural attitudes of pupils and encourage them to adopt the latest fashionable, cosmopolitan and therapeutic values – such as diversity, genderfluidity, non-judgmentalism, sustainability and anti-traditionalism.

Even exam markers have been shown to penalise pupils who adopt views that contradict the values upheld by the curriculum. The number of pupils penalised in exam-marking for their supposedly ‘offensive’ ideas has doubled in a year. In August, a pupil had her GCSE paper disqualified because her criticisms of halal meat were deemed to be ‘obscene racial comments’. Abigail Ward, a 16-year-old pupil at Gildredge House school in Eastbourne, was told that she had committed a ‘malpractice offence’ and would be disqualified.

In this instance, the pupil’s disqualification was overturned, when it became clear that she was a strict vegetarian who was merely expressing her disgust for halal butchers. Nevertheless, the zealous behaviour of her examiners indicates that pupils can pay a price for straying from received multicultural norms. A system of examination that involves the policing of pupils’ values does not provide a hospitable environment for independent thought.

But the policing of values in schools pales into insignificance in comparison with the heavy-handed demand for conformism in higher education. In many universities, students are told that their essays will be marked down if they do not use politically correct speech. A document sent to students at the University of Hull said marks would be deducted from students who use supposedly sexist terms like ‘mankind’ or ‘manpower’.

The policing of speech in universities is integral to the project of cultural and linguistic conversion. Universities almost require that students convert from the values they learned at home and adopt those of the university. As early as 1979, in his book The Future of Intellectuals and the Rise of the New Class, the sociologist Alvin Gouldner pointed out that children were being culturally distanced from the values of their parents. He said this was taking place through a process of ‘linguistic conversion’ to a form of speech that reflected the values of the cultural elites, or what he characterised as the ‘new class’.

Gouldner’s analysis anticipated the institutionalisation of speech codes and the policing of language on campus in the decades to follow. And his analysis of linguistic conversion was linked to his study of the emergence of the new class. This group had, he said, gained a monopoly over the promotion of values in education, and were using their power to de-authorise traditional values and norms.

This was underpinned by the unravelling of parental authority. Parents found it increasingly difficult to impose and reproduce their ‘social values and political ideologies in their children’, noted Gouldner. This disruption in family socialisation provided an opportunity for institutions of education to exercise a powerful influence over the outlook of young people.

Gouldner also argued that this disruption of parental authority intensified cultural conflict. As schools and universities assumed a central role in the socialisation of young people, parental influence over children was undermined. He said that public education had become a ‘major cosmopolitanising influence on its students, with a corresponding distancing from localistic interests and values’ (his emphasis). Consequently, the expansion of higher education reinforced this process.

Since the late Seventies, when Gouldner was writing, the role of higher education in socialising the younger generation has only expanded significantly. More than half of young people now go to university in the UK, and by the time they graduate many of them will have embraced a cultural outlook that is at odds with that of their family and of older generations. Their political attitudes and voting behaviour are very much influenced by the regime of socialisation they experience in university. It is worth noting that the political division of the UK electorate along generational lines coexists with that of education. University-educated citizens, like the young, are far more likely to vote for Labour than those with lower educational attainment.

It is not that university-educated people think they are smarter than the rest of the electorate, and that in voting for Labour they are demonstrating their superiority. Rather, they have internalised the anti-traditionalist and anti-conservative values to which they were exposed on campus. Unlike student radicals of the past, who often rebelled against university authorities, the recent cohorts of undergraduates have internalised and conformed to the prevailing ethos. It is also difficult for students seriously to question this ethos, and most of them feel they have no choice but to adopt it.

The so-called post-materialist and anti-traditional values upheld by many young voters is sometimes portrayed as a form of radical defiance. It is nothing of the sort. The conformist script that many young people have internalised was written by a small section of their elders, those within the cultural elite. Like the children led by their teachers to join a school strike for the planet, many young people vote against their elders because that is what they have been taught to do.

Frank Furedi’s How Fear Works: the Culture of Fear in the 21st Century is published by Bloomsbury Press.

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


S P Johnson

29th December 2019 at 8:28 pm

I understand the age debate and find it very sad. I am sixty five and I voted to remain in the EU and I am proud to say that I have never voted Tory in my life. As a student of history, why would I vote for a party that were against the abolition of slavery, were against universal suffrage, were against the National Health Service and many more things that have been of advantage to working class people in Britain? If people really believe that Boris Johnson is going to be their salvation, then God help them.
However, as a working class women, I do have sympathy with working class people, particularly in the North, who voted to leave Europe, after all, they have been left out in the cold by the liberal middle class chattering classes in London who seem to think they can wipe away the sins of generations of the middle class by just including a few ethnic minorities in BBC dramas etc. White working class British people are totally ignored, their history forgotten.
I have to admit I feel torn. I voted Labour in the election but I don’t feel that they really represent the British working class, of whatever colour or ethnic group. It was the 200th anniversary of Peterloo in 2019 and yet there was hardly a mention of it on the BBC. (Only on the radio). Hundreds of working class people were cut down by the Tory military just because they attended a peaceful meeting in St Peter’s Fields near Manchester in 1819 to ask for the vote for all the male population. Women were particularly singled out for attack, having their breasts cut off by the disgusting Tory soldiers (At the time, only about 5% of the population had the vote). The poet Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote ‘The Mask of Anarchy’ in response to this atrocity. This protest led to the Great Reform Act of 1832 which was the first step towards universal suffrage in this country but working class men did not get the vote until 1867 and then only urban dwellers who were householders paying at least £10 per year rent. Rural working class men did not get the vote until much later and women, of course, not until nearly 1930!
It seems to me that the working classes in this country have been written, deliberately, out of history. It’s time we reclaimed our proper place.

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bf bf

24th December 2019 at 7:36 pm

Easy questions for any age group:-
Which age group is most easily-
1. Mislead
2. Lied to
3. Duped
or is most
a. gullible
b. Idealistic
c. sees the world in black and white / right and wrong.
Also which age group is (deliberately) most ignorant of lessons from history.

16 to 25
40 +
Think we all (of any age) know the answer and WHY the left want the voting age dropped to 16.

Robin P Clarke

24th December 2019 at 8:38 pm

Purely by way of Devil’s Advocate….
How about the older people have been subject to more years of the propaganda brainwashing? And of course younger people have had the huge benefit of improved education, the national curriculum, more info over the internet…..

Robin Lillian

28th December 2019 at 5:45 am

It is personality that makes you more susceptible to brainwashing rather than age, unless the individual suffers from age-related dementia. Older people may tend to be more conservative, but many also do vote for more liberal candidates. Bernie Sanders is an obvious example of an older person who has leaned Left his entire life. Stereotyping people according to age is just another form of bias.

Cedar Grove

28th December 2019 at 3:57 pm

I’m an old person with half a dozen degrees. That constituted a greatly “improved education” for a working class child.

Whereas my students had the attention span of a flea when it came to aural learning, I can still listen to 90-minute radio plays with sustained attention. I left the UK when a literature student told me she had never read a whole book, just passed exams on the strength of handouts from her classroom teacher.

I can spell, construct balanced sentences, and understand the historical layers of the English language. I’m well-versed in the foundational artefacts of Western culture from the Ancient Greeks onwards. Therefore, I understand the references in canonical literature, abandoned by contemporary students in favour of modern short stories because everything else is too difficult.

I have a sense of chronology and geography. Students given a module on The Vikings next to a module in Ancient Egypt can’t make causal or material connections amongst historical events.

I can tell the difference between “uninterested” & “disinterested”, which many young people seemingly cannot, and therefore even the concept of unbiased judgement or behaviour is more accessible to me than it is to them. A greater capacity for analysis enables the construction of more rational arguments.

Astonishing as it may seem, I can use the InterNet as well as any adolescent. However, I prefer to read 400-page books, because they tend to provide detailed evidence for the opinions expressed therein. This is not a capacity supported by a medium with a propensity for “info” presented in the form of a cartoonish headline.

My experience with propaganda is as lengthy as my experience with resistance and counter-argument. Furthermore, my age allows me a perspective on human antics impossible for anyone lost in the trivia of the moment to attain.

Stir my head up with a stick and I’ll still have a better faculty of critical evaluation than the hapless children being instructed what, not how, to think.

I know your comment wasn’t altogether serious, but it draws our attention to the fearsome chaos we have created in impressionable minds. And that isn’t funny.

Neil McCaughan

30th December 2019 at 1:22 pm

What improved education? Where?

Peter Spurrier

24th December 2019 at 4:14 pm

How about this for a policy? The government stops subsidising any education that is biased towards the left. Either what is taught should be generally accepted as true ( and the reasons for this explained ) or both sides of an argument should be explained. Also, people should be taught to think ( well ) for themselves.

Robin P Clarke

24th December 2019 at 8:41 pm

Do you also oppose the conspiracy to make all the Muslims in Sparkbrook extinct thanks to their children deciding to live gaily for ever after?

Peter Spurrier

24th December 2019 at 10:35 pm

I wasn’t keen on what sounded to me like PC indoctrination of young children on sex.

Robin Lillian

28th December 2019 at 5:47 am

Who gets to decide what exactly is biased towards the Left?

Cedar Grove

28th December 2019 at 4:05 pm

The emphasis in the No Outsiders programme wasn’t on sex.

It was simply validating the idea that families don’t always come in the two-parent nuclear model, & that what counts isn’t who sleeps with whom, but whether children are responsibly and lovingly cared for. That’s what makes a good family.

Neil McCaughan

24th December 2019 at 2:35 pm

There are far too many females (of either sex) at our many low-grade ‘universities’.
Hence the excitability, irrationality. and emotionalism. Let them get jobs and mortgages, and maturity will slowly set in – later than their parents and grandparents, but with the same result.

The sensible thing would be to raise the voting age. Thirty sounds about right.

Robin P Clarke

24th December 2019 at 8:45 pm

Raise voting age? Pah. Only people who have at least two maths A-levels should be allowed to participate in public life. The odds are that then there would be a exponential increase in competence at least as discernable from regression coefficients and factor analyses.

In Negative

24th December 2019 at 1:23 pm

I get confused by spiked sometimes. On the one hand, tabloids and the right-wing press have no impact on the cultural values of the working class, and working class folks are perfectly able to think critically and politically by themselves; for the young however, it’s a different story:

“Young people’s politics are strongly influenced by the values and attitudes that they have internalised through the dominant institutions of culture – such as the media, schools and universities”

Frank talks about children ‘being socialised,’ which is in itself a speech pattern with which Frank has been inculcated – his backgground being in professional ‘sociology’. It is the language of academia as applied from the top down to ordinary people. Ditto his conceptualisation of ‘the family’ and its ‘secondary role’ in ‘socialising children’. This is academic modelling conceived inorder to exert a certain persuasive influence on children and adults alike.

The moment one uses a word like ‘socialisation,’ isn’t one being a conformist? A conformist even to an academic tradition? He may use the tools of sociology to make some other point that he feels is subversive to the system, but it’s the language of the system regardless.

I would suggest then that this whole conversation was just ‘the system’ in play. Be you bemoaning trendy cosmo values or advocating the adoption of these values in the class rooms. It’s just a battle over what you’d prefer people were conforming to.

And the article gives schools far too much credit. What is the origin of these values in the adult teachers? Do they come from the universities? Then where do these values come from in the universities? The idea that values are simply passed like this just seems to me wrong. The origin of values is far more deeply structural than this. A cultural psychology supervenes on the whole structural territory – a territory of instantaneous electronic communications, fast local and transnational travel, physical immunisation from weather systems – a psychology that analyses itself at the level of the neurotransmitter and the genome, a culture that analyses itself at the level of safe, efficient productive organisational systems. By photographing the planet, and abolishing god you give birth to the imagination of environmental catastrophe. By inventing the individual and the consumer, you give birth to individual rights and the production of tribal identities. Technology just accelerates and supports all of this.

The young are different to the old because the socieities into which they develop are radically different to those societies that developed the old. Hell, schools themselves are a very young invention whose psychological consequences in terms of mentally adapting us to systematic forms of living are immeasurable. What about roads? Movement itself throughout our socieities has been systematised into a network of lights and stops and starts and quick-moving instructions. One does not walk freely, one leaves the house and moves through complicated networks.

Where do you want to start in this genaeology of changing values? Everything that is happening right now is part of the system. The future of the system is increasing fragmentation and tribalisation. All the above article does is provides another persuasive informational fault-line masquerading as a better way of doing things. Some people will believe it and cluster around it, others will reject it and seek something else to cluster around. And that is the digital future.

Steve Roberts

24th December 2019 at 7:14 pm

In Negative, regards the confusion i think it needs to be understood that not all articles on Spiked have a Spiked “line” the articles are the authors responsibility which Spiked may or may not agree with in part or wholly.
Furedi makes many points that are evidently correct and playing out in society more widely, among the largest effects are the sheer numbers increase in the university attendees that are clearly being indoctrinated into a particular cultural outlook, many of whom will go on to fulfill further positions within the established order and the possibility of further entrenchment of the same.
What cannot be ignored too is that many of these younger people have parents who themselves have been brought up in the same educational system, this is a major problem as we now have the passing on of values generationally embedded both at home in the family unit as well as in educational institutions that are indeed distinct from previous generational values.
But there is also the fact that there are still, just, a majority of youngsters not going to university, and even those going will not all fall prey entirely to this regressive socialisation.
All this does however make it urgent that the older generations still have a huge responsibility to find ways to clarify what values we oppose the new cultural ones with, what political vehicles we decide can be useful to pursue and ensure that those values become the norm, i do not see how it can come from any of the present established order and the political parties within it, they have all been responsible for the present state of affairs.
How we decide to build anew social and political life and which vehicle we use to inform them bears a great responsibility, if we make mistakes it is possible before too many decades have past we will have lost far too much and what we see now as disturbing could be far worse and very dark days indeed.

Linda Payne

24th December 2019 at 10:41 am

The thought that someone could be marked down for not using PC language is chilling. I really did not know this was happening and it goes against free thought and speech and stifles knowledge

Michael M

23rd December 2019 at 9:49 pm

Home school your kids. The phenomenon of generations not being able to relate to one another to the degree that they can’t now only dates from the end of WWII. You give your kids to the state to raise (i.e. school) you’ll teach them that they can only trust or relate to their peers. Home schooled kids are comfortable with people of all ages because they’re not divided into years. Think about it, outside education what scenarios in life put you together exclusively with people of almost the exact same age?

Robin Lillian

28th December 2019 at 5:52 am

The quality of home schooling varies considerably, depending upon the abilities of the parents. Some parents do a superb job of educating their children, but others are totally incompetent, and their children suffer accordingly. At least professional teachers get some training and supervision.

Jon Hubs

23rd December 2019 at 9:35 pm

Experience is the poison of falsehood and the manna of reason, thankfully.

Ven Oods

24th December 2019 at 8:42 am

Experience takes some getting, which introduces an unfortunate lag into the process.

Robin Lillian

28th December 2019 at 5:48 am

Also not everyone actually manages to learn from experience.

Sam Ford

23rd December 2019 at 7:56 pm

The next generation is the result of trendy parental choices little wonder they continue to choose alt as they hardly fit the old stereotypes in looks manner or heritage. When parents projects find they aren’t valued to reproduce even to themselves they accept that image is something to be transed not a reproductive calling card in anyway but a flavour and masquerade.They merely spend themselves while preening about modern identity that can buy or sell into as society has deemed their culture of little value.

Ven Oods

24th December 2019 at 8:44 am

Wow, Sam. Started on the Xmas bevvie so soon?

Matt Ryan

23rd December 2019 at 7:16 pm

I doubt you’ll need words like mankind or manpower for a STEM degree. Ah, I see, it’s the crap humanities courses where the brainwashing takes place. So, easy answer, put up the tuition costs for these to subsidise STEM courses.

Ian Wilson

24th December 2019 at 5:14 am

An excellent point, and one I whole heartedly agree with. I did Maths at a polytechnic, and had 35+ hours of lessons for 3 years. Do a proper degree or don’t bother – another one of Blair’s legacies.

Alley Kat

24th December 2019 at 2:21 pm

Ian, nail on the head…bLiar! He who introduced the university free for all under the guise of supporting the lower orders. The result sub standard meaningless courses whicheck have no merit of application in the real world (workplace). The real agenda? More young people to “re-educate” (read brainwash) for 3-5 years. Nursing, social work and policing, once aspirational (but reachable) vocations for working class youngsters….now stuffed full of brainwashed “middle class” graduates. It’s all rather reminiscent of Paul Pot and year zero to me. Only the STEM graduates may save us!

Jim Lawrie

23rd December 2019 at 6:46 pm

Even the gap year and travel are an utterly conformist relay from one safe house to another, without even trying the local booze. Constantly hooked into social media to show their peers what they are “experiencing”. The crass expression is “creating memories” – planning to look back on an event before it has come to pass.

On the bright side there is a sizeable section of young people disenchanted with university and passing that message on.

Geoff Cox

23rd December 2019 at 6:28 pm

My advice to any 6th former now – don’t bother with university. I’m sure they will have a good time there, but they will emerge after 3 years with a debased degree and thousands of £s in debt.

On the other hand, they could go against the trend, show some independence and initiative, get a job and get paid.

Robin P Clarke

24th December 2019 at 8:51 pm

On the other other hand, are there any tolerable jobs for school-leavers who choose not to go to “university”?

David McAdam

23rd December 2019 at 6:24 pm

Socialism generally sounds attractive to teenagers entering the idealistic and for some the zealous stage. Teenage rebellion against parental authority predictably extends to civic until common sense begins its maturing work.

Ellen Whitaker

23rd December 2019 at 6:14 pm

Here’s something that surprised me. I think it’s the real news about demographics and the UK electorate.

“The tipping age over which a British voter was more likely to vote Conservative than Labour was 39, a drop from 47 at the last election.

Younger people are less inclined to support Brexit. But they are also less likely to care about the split with the EU than their older counterparts, opinion polls during the election campaign consistently showed.”


steve moxon

23rd December 2019 at 11:40 pm

And in ‘Red Wall’ constituencies, as where I live, it is older people who are — or were — more likely to vote Liebore.
As we’ve surely passed ‘peak university’, indoctrination is likely to recede, and anyway conformity by youth is hardly to endure for long.

Modern Money

23rd December 2019 at 6:09 pm

Not really.

I think you could be missing the big picture


Leontios Xenophilos nails it for me.

Neil John

23rd December 2019 at 5:08 pm

Meanwhile anyone not conforming maybe reported to the authorities:

John Allan

23rd December 2019 at 4:59 pm

It’s not higher education that is driving your UK voting patterns. Look at the demographics of younger vs older generations and note the difference.

Your younger generations are simply a different culture than your older generation. Of course, that was a choice made by you, to increase and encourage immigration from non-western countries.

The Tories, like the Republicans in the US, are in a demographic dead end. And that is what they wanted, see borris Johnson declaring that immigration will continue. Like their US counterpart the Tories will ensure they are wiped out as a political force, all to keep wages down just a little bit longer.

Philip Humphrey

23rd December 2019 at 4:42 pm

The good news is that indoctrination by the education system wears off with time and exposure to the real world. In spite of educationalists going on endlessly about “critical thinking”, in reality that is the one thing that they don’t teach. They are all about conformity, providing model answers to predictable questions and so called ” critical thinking” exercises. Genuine thinking and reasoning outside the box is usually punished (marked down). But in the real world people need such skills and have to learn them. And once you have such skills it’s easy to see through the propaganda of the BBC, channel 4 etc.

James Knight

23rd December 2019 at 4:05 pm

School has become more about teaching values than teaching traditional subjects like maths or history. The definition of education is the “transmission of culture”. The current model is closer to Year Zero: children are assumed to be like computers with the incorrect software, the role of schools is then to wipe the software and reboot with the correct code. This why the authorities just cannot let go of LGBTQ+ lessons in primary schools. They would probably want those lessons administered to unborn children in the womb if they could.

The irony is that the ideas espoused by young people are just what they have been taught by old people, albeit old people from a particular cultural elite. Snowflakery and entitlement culture doesn’t come from young people, it what has been institutionalised from the top down by previous generations. Conformity and obedience is re-branded as rebellion. Climate strikes by school kids are the result if them being inculcated with the fears of climate paganism wrapped up in “science”, the same way eugenics and racism was wrapped in science in the past. They predict millions will die as a result of our inaction. Where are the school strikes for the people dying from lack of development right now? Why are future predicted deaths an “emergency” but not deaths right now due to poverty and lack of development? Where are the strikes for the many who lack the basics like clean water or electricity? Where are the rolling global conferences, world leaders being excoriated by teenagers for their lack of action? Why isn’t Greta suggesting world leaders be “put to the wall”?

Neil John

23rd December 2019 at 5:02 pm

Why? Because her sponsors and script writers would be amongst that group.

steven brook

23rd December 2019 at 3:48 pm

Time for Green Guards along the lines of Chairman Mao`s Red Guards. This would be a mass middle class student-led paramilitary social movement mobilized and guided by Saint Greta. All coffin dodgers (over 40s) would be eliminated by volunteer Youth-quake (Einsatzgruppen) Squads.

Neil John

23rd December 2019 at 5:00 pm

Very ‘Logans run’ perhaps…

Lloyd Reid

23rd December 2019 at 3:01 pm

Well five years of a Labour sorry Marxist imposed regime would soon change their mind and views.

Lord Anubis

23rd December 2019 at 3:59 pm

Indeed, people over 50 vote tory because they remember what a dreadful mess hard left labour governments made of things back in the 70’s.

No, I for one do not wish to return to a world of endless strikes, annual inflation peaking at nearly 30% (Yes, that was 30% NOT 3%!) and the ultimate humiliation of the UK Government going, begging bowl in hand, to the IMF for a loan!

While I was never really happy with Thatcher’s policy of privatisations (Even as a teenager I saw it as a fiscal slight of hand whereby the British public were being conned into buying something that we already owned) I still recognised that it was probably the only way for the Thatcher government to be able to raise sufficient funds quickly enough to get us out of the almost bottomless economic hole that the previous labour government had dug us into.

Michael Gilday

23rd December 2019 at 6:15 pm

I agree fully, what is lacking in Education is the teaching of history. At the time I hated the Thatcherism, but I did agree with bringing and end to the Social Contract and diminishing Trade Union Power. In the 1970’s the country was without a doubt a basket case. No young person today will have heard of “Stagflation” or experienced it. It is only when you compare the state of the country, which is by far from perfect, to what it was in the 1960’s and 70’s, especially the 70’s; that you realise how far we have come, much of which is directly due to Thatcher’s policies.

It seems to me that you need a strong leader with economics to meet the decade you are in. That what was right in the 1980’s would not be right today. If young people could learn about how things have change, they would be less appeal for Corbyn’s political. After the war the Social Contract was maybe correct, the slum removal of the 60’s and 70’s was important as was the setting up of the NHS. But as I have already stated times move on and a different agenda is required for maybe every two rather than one decade. Also, I think you need to be over 60 years of age to really grasp what it was like back in the 1970’s.

Geoff Cox

23rd December 2019 at 6:24 pm

My Lord – I agree with your comment but not this:

“While I was never really happy with Thatcher’s policy of privatisations (Even as a teenager I saw it as a fiscal slight of hand whereby the British public were being conned into buying something that we already owned) …”

What actually happened was that you as a tax payer were paid by other tax payers for your “shares” in the nationalised industries. Assuming that all the shares were sold to Brits – it was a nil sum gain. To the extent that some shares were sold to foreigners, it was like any other asset sale, the tax payer got some cash and someone else got an asset.

brent mckeon

24th December 2019 at 6:11 am

An observation over about 40 years of visiting the UK. First was in 1974, on a course with the multi national I was working for. Spent 4/5 days in London and a week plus in Liverpool/NW and NE England and then just over a week in Hamburg. Central London was depressing, run down full of half finished building sites and generally seemed still ‘war weary’. N of England the same, especially Liverpool but the ‘spirit’ of N England was absolutely wonderful and I remain a avid Liverpool supporter ever since, truly the best most wonderful people in England live in the North. Hamburg was an eye opener, modern, new, confident rich etc etc making me wonder who actually won the war. Next visit was about 10 years later and then every year for another 10. It was the early Thatcher years and London, in particular, was a revelation; modern, thriving, confident and equaling Hamburg in all ways. Whatever you may think of Thatcher, her Tories pulled England out of a steep drive to ruin. As an addition, that trip I visited Berlin including East Berlin. All I can say it cured me forever in being a socialist, what I saw in E. Berlin was very worrying and not a showcase for socialism. West Berlin then was the most vibrant, exciting, interesting city I have ever visited.

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