The intergenerational election

Jeremy Corbyn laughing © Rex
Jeremy Corbyn: the young liked what they saw

Age seems to be “the new dividing line in British politics”, writes Chris Curtis on Since last week’s election YouGov has interviewed more than 50,000 people to learn more about how Britain voted. For “every ten years older a voter is, their chance of voting Tory increases by around nine points and the chance of them voting Labour decreases by nine points”; among first-time voters Labour was 47% ahead. Social class, once the key to British voting patterns, “is no longer a very good indicator”.

“This year was supposed to be the Brexit election,” says Ross Clark in The Spectator, yet instead it proved to be “the intergenerational election”. Many analysts have focused on May’s social-care debacle, but it was Corbyn’s mid-campaign pledge to abolish tuition fees that seems to have sparked the Labour surge – “we saw with the Liberal Democrat collapse in 2015 just how important an issue that was with young voters”.

As recently as the 2015 election the left held no particular attraction for the young. That year, “36% of 18-29-year-olds voted Labour and 32% Conservative”. Yet the youth turned out massively this time around to back Corbyn’s full-throated socialism. Sooner or later the right is going to have to address the concerns of a generation that feels the economic system is rigged against it. For my generation, says Ross, socialism inspires thoughts of the Winter of Discontent and the Soviet bloc, but the young have only known “bankers who wrecked the economy” and “overpriced trains” run by companies ruthlessly exploiting monopolies.

The election also left Ukip fighting for survival after winning less than 2% of the vote, notes Henry Mance in the Financial Times. Theresa May hoped to be the main beneficiary, embracing “the populists’ key policies of Brexit, immigration control and the expansion of grammar schools”. Yet in the event many backed Jeremy Corbyn’s anti-establishment message instead.

At least Scotland brought good news for the Conservatives, says Lesley Riddoch in The Guardian. “It was the Scottish Tories’ best results since 1983,” while the SNP lost 21 MPs, though it still has more seats in Scotland than all its opponents combined. Unquestionably the demand for a second independence referendum “did rile many union supporters”, with private polling showing that even “yes” voters are “nervous about yet another vote” after a raft of elections and referendums in recent years. The “once ubiquitously popular Sturgeon may have lost some of her shine”.


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