Coffee House

Generation Y have a natural taste for conservative values

16 June 2014

5:04 PM

16 June 2014

5:04 PM

I’ve been working with a team of radio producers, Vicky Spratt and Lewis Goodall, on a documentary for BBC Radio 4 called Generation Right. We’re looking at the political views of our generation — Generation Y – to see whether today’s twentysomethings are a new breed of right-wingers.

Compared to their predecessors, ‘Gen Y’ have shifted to the right on economic issues, while they have slid to the left socially (with more progressive views on homosexuality, women’s rights and immigration). In our programme we set out to explore why.

An analysis of research by pollsters IPSOS Mori suggests that unlike generations before us, Gen Y have a much more individualised outlook and a greater sense of personal responsibility. Take benefits for example. Polling analysis suggests that Gen Y are not particularly keen on spending more money on the poor. However they also don’t believe someone owes them a living.

Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of IPSOS Mori’s social research team, suggests that because Gen Y haven’t had a lot of help themselves – with student loans, tuition fees, housing – it has conditioned them to believe that they need to look after themselves. But as well as these short-term political factors, there’s also the question of underlying social trends – ones that promote individualism, from consumerism to technology.

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It’s easy to think that social networks have made everyone far more social. But that’s not necessarily true. ‘Revolutions in technology make it very easy to connect, but connect in a peer-to-peer way,’ says Dr Bernie Hogan, a sociologist from the Oxford Internet Institute.

‘It’s not “I’m connecting to this group”, it’s “I’m connecting to this individual”. It leads to a sense of us being both very “networked” rather than very “grouped”, and very networked as individuals,’ he says. Hogan also points out that people who use social media don’t log on collectively and negotiate collectively. Instead, Person A interacts with Person B and those specific relationships are what matters.

Greater consumer choice also gives scope for greater individualisation. But what impact could this have on the political landscape when Gen Y becomes a bigger force in the polling stations?

‘There is a natural conservative constituency amongst younger people that is there to be won by the Conservative party. They naturally believe in a smaller state with lower taxes and a shrunken welfare system and that’s something that the Conservatives could benefit from,’ says Toby Young.

But Mark Kidson of the British Youth Council argues that the views of Gen Y aren’t aligned with the menu set out by any one political party. In around 30 years Generation Y will have taken the reins of power. At that stage, they will be in the age bracket most likely to vote. One wonders what changes Westminster will be willing to make in order to woo them.

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Show comments
  • pearlsandoysters

    My take is that generation Y is generally more consumerist than the previous ones, thus they are less interested in any forms of political action.

  • Conway

    ‘There is a natural conservative constituency amongst younger people
    that is there to be won by the Conservative party. They naturally
    believe in a smaller state with lower taxes and a shrunken welfare
    system and that’s something that the Conservatives could benefit from,’
    says Toby Young.
    ” If that is the case, the Cameron “Conservatives” would not fit the bill, surely? In four years, despite much vaunted “austerity” the state is no smaller and the tax burden remains high. Sounds as though they are more UKIP material. They genuinely do want a small state and a simpler tax system.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Compared to their predecessors, ‘Gen Y’ have shifted to the right on
    economic issues, while they have slid to the left socially (with more
    progressive views on homosexuality, women’s rights and immigration). In
    our programme we set out to explore why.

    So they were brainwashed by the Blairites whilst at school huh? Do the BBC really need to waste good viewing time on telling us what we already know?

  • Count Dooku

    Damn right. We are Y, the children of Thatcher, and we are Legion.

    • Kitty MLB

      The children of Thatcher, you were fed in a diet of inspiration, responsibility,
      creativity, freedom of expression and a few little words named hope of a
      better future.
      Unlike the benighted children and young adults who were unfortunate to
      be educated and live under labours soulless reign of desperation.

  • Lucy Sky Diamonds

    Gen Y here. UKIP all the way.

  • Mike Barnes

    There’s nothing remotely right wing about wanting everybody who can work to have a job and wanting a lower welfare bill. Everybody wants that, including Labour who had the Future Jobs Fund in an effort to reduce youth unemployment before it was scrapped by the coalition.

  • you_kid

    If I were you I wouldn’t link Gen Right with Gen Y bother…

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …if he were you he’d be another of your army of sockpuppets, lad.

  • John Dalton

    Right now, this is not true. It’s not entirely their fault, but the current late teens and twenties crew have been so thoroughly brainwashed by the Lefties that have infiltrated our media, schools and universities that they are in complete cultural thrall to anything that constitutes “The Other”. They have no sense of identity, pride, history or traditions – and what they are aware of they are guilt-riddenly contemptuous of. Rihanna and Jay-Z are the idols of the day. And we have allowed it to happen.

    I have a feeling this will change as the real impact of the terrible policies of the last 20 years really hit home in a way that leaves our young marginalised, impoverished and embittered. A new generation will then hopefully emerge who feel anger at their birth right having been given away and maybe they will have the fight in them that the current crop of the self-entitled and celebrity-obsessed so sadly lack.

  • Hello

    “Bobby Duffy, Managing Director of IPSOS Mori’s social research team, suggests that because Gen Y haven’t had a lot of help themselves – with student loans, tuition fees, housing – it has conditioned them to believe that they need to look after themselves”

    “Conditioned”? That’s an interesting choice of word given the context! You can’t be conditioned into thinking you have to look after yourself, you can be conditioned into thinking you don’t.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …and you LibLabCon clones are making an excellent job of it, too.

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