This government is giving young people a rough ride. According to the Guardian they are “Indebted at college, commodified at work and ripped-off by high rents, young adults cannot get ahead like their parents once did.” Figures show that home ownership by the under-35s has fallen below 50% for the first time for a very long time.
All this whilst pensioners’ incomes and benefits are being protected. They have never been so well off. Recent surveys indicate that their incomes have grown far faster than those of young people. In contrast the youth unemployment rate rose three times faster than that for older adults, and their incomes down a full 10% since 2007. That income is also precarious with continued rises in the number of zero-hours contracts which mainly impact the young. For many most of their income goes on extortionate rents, leaving little prospect of saving for a deposit on a house, let alone put enough aside for a decent pension.
It didn’t used to be like this. We had an expectation that our children would have better lives than us, but not any longer. It’s not that today’s young adults are about to slip back into abject poverty but that their ability to get ahead, through careers with prospects, home ownership and decent pensions, is being cut off.
Why is this? The young have always tended to favour single issue politics and direct action: demos, protests, marches and the like, the old vote. The former rarely works but governments do listen to those who vote. This Tory government was elected on the back of the grey vote. It’s easy for them to introduce policies that hit the young because here is no electoral penalty to them. So the government protects pensioner incomes and perks whilst imposing massive cuts on housing, employment and youth services.
I know it’s boring and politics is a waste of time but the only way for the young to get their voice heard by government is to vote. Bernie Sanders presidential bid in the USA is to a great extent based on putting forward youth orientated policies; and the young people of America are responding. The Labour Party can win again in the UK if it can mobilise the non-voting young.
So let’s get young people to register to vote and then to vote Labour.