It is just so irritating when one's prejudices are tipped arse over and doubly so when one's deeply-held conviction that the younger generation of what I call the 'youfs' and 'youfettes' are a pathetic load of wastrels turns out to be about as wrong as it is possible to be. I am grateful to Tim Worstall for pointing me to an article in 'The Graun' by John Harris in which he investigates, by means of old-fashioned reporting and the results of sundry opinion polls, the attitudes and opinions of different age groups. He contrasts what is called 'Generation Y', those born between 1980 and 2000, with those born before 1945 - he gives no name to that group so let's just call them 'the old farts'!
When asked for their opinions on the welfare state, 'Generation Y' turn out to be somewhere to the Right of Maggie Thatcher! One could almost sense the shiver of shock reverberating inside Mr. Harris's Leftie frame:
So it was in Peterborough, where I stopped for a chat with a young woman – born and raised in Cambridgeshire, it seemed – who was selling subscriptions to LoveFilm, next to a row of empty retail outlets and a branch of Caffe Nero. "British people are rubbish," she said. "Lads especially need to be pushed into jobs more."
"I think they need to stop letting people into the country, to start with," she went on, and then paused. "And stop jobseeker's, as well. I don't think it's right."
This was a reference to jobseeker's allowance, the benefit that pays unemployed people under 25 the princely sum of £56.80 a week. "There are hardly any people that are willing to go and get any job that's out there, just to say: 'I've earned that money'," she continued. "They want the best, don't they?"
At this point, my lefty, bleeding-heart soul could take no more, and I blurted out a riposte. Don't they just want to be paid seven or eight quid an hour and be treated with some respect?
"I was on £6.55 in my last job," she said. "If you don't want to go to college, start at the bottom and work your way up."
Make that lady prime minister, I say! (Incidentally, did you know that 'youfs' and 'youfettes' could pick up nearly £57 quid a week for doing nothing? I didn't and I'm shocked, I tell you, shocked!) There was a further suprise in the fact that support for the welfare state amongst the 'old farts' was amazingly high. Actually, when I think about it, most of my ancient friends are "so wet you could shoot snipe off them" which is why, by and large, I try to keep politics out of our conversations.
Anyway, it is a very interesting article which I urge you all to read, not least because it points to some profound possibilities for the future. Also, Mr. Harris is an excellent reporter who combines good writing with political detachment and, above all, a deprecating sense of humour.