It would be fair to say that the UK is a country divided. It started back in 2010 when a vote for the Tories sealed the fate of our young. Those coming of age during the 2008 financial crash had only just managed to find their financial footing in the few retail jobs coming back onto the market. Then, the older generation twisted the knife by voting for a party who intended to make life even harder for low-earners. Even those born to middle-class families were fated to feel that sting. And, it didn’t take long. An attack on student grants soon made it clear that the Tories didn’t have the interests of the younger generation in mind.
Since then, things have gone downhill. Those sealed into low-paying jobs have struggled to make any significant changes. Worse, the introduction of zero-hour contracts has meant that even those with secure positions now have to navigate uncertain waters. It’s a vicious cycle of the Tories’ doing. And, a look at the statistics reveal that it’s working, with 400,000 more young people living in poverty today than a decade ago.
It’s no surprise, then, that the divide between age brackets has become one of the largest in the country. Class and racial issues still bubble under the surface, but the primary battle is between young and old. This came to a head in Brexit during 2016, when the older generations who benefited from the security of the EU during their early adult lives voted in their hordes to step into uncertain waters. A whopping 73 per cent of 18-24-year-olds voted to remain, compared with 60 per cent of leave voters over 65. It’s easy to see, then, why so many young people blame the older generation for their uncertain futures.
It’s thought that the average UK household will be £600 worse off after Brexit. For young generations who are only earning just above that amount, these statistics are increasingly concerning. Many young families are having to turn to companies like Jubilee Remortgages, or take out high interest loans to cope with their financial situations. And, things don’t look set to get any better, with May claiming that ‘No deal is better than a bad deal’.
Given all of the above, the results of the snap election in June this year should really come as no surprise. In recent years, youth turnout at polls has been poor. But, during the last election, youth turnout skyrocketed to the highest level it’s been in 25 years. What’s more, those who did turn up were voting for a controversial figure — Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn.
It seems his socialist views and targeting of a younger audience have captured the imaginations of our youth in a way that no politician has managed for a long time. But, who can say whether this will end the age divide, or worsen it? With many of the older generation now turning away from May, this could well be something the young and old can finally agree on.