Meet The Neo-Victorians
In order to research my next novel, I’m having to recall a time I don’t remember. It’s set in September 1969 at the end of flower power and freedom, when Charles Manson was stealing headlines from the first man on the moon.
I was at school and out of the loop for the whole Swinging London thing. But it’s clearly not a great time to be young now. A decimated NHS. College debts instead of grants. Corporatisation of the arts. Easier travel, but no way to finance it. No savings or housing without the BOMAD. The rightwingamatization (that’s a word) of USA, Poland, France, Israel, Russia.
So do the nation’s youth take affirmative action? No – new research shows Britain’s young are more likely to vote hard right and be more authoritarian than their grandparents.
I do not want to believe this of the young, and in my experience I haven’t come across the press image of them, which if I’ve got it right is;
Derogatorily known as Snowflakes, ‘unique and precious, prone to melting’, their dictionary includes Safe Space, Trigger Warning, Microaggression, Intersectionality and No-Platforming. Avoiding confrontation, they live with their folks and stay online because outside life is scary/impoverished, while the top percentile of privileged children spend their parents’ money. To show they care, they hit SEND.
I feel as if I spent the whole of my twenties getting petitions signed and going on marches to effect change. But were the sixties that great?
‘Swinging London’ belonged to a small trust-fund enclave, just as punk did later. A coterie of rich pals having fun while the rest of the country stagnated. Drugs cut a deadly swathe through the young populace, and STDs soared. Heath’s dithering brought a decade of unparalleled nightmarishness to the UK.
The sixties’ air of unfettered optimism was not based on empirical data. Sound familiar? 11 out of 13 UK polls show that voters would now reverse their Brexit decision.
So once again it’s a contradictory and confusing time. We want free trade but British goods. In the sixties, the ‘I’m Backing Britain’ campaign collapsed and their T-shirts, like Trump’s caps, were found to be made in China.
The difference is that this time, young people are heading in the opposite direction. Now that is something to worry about.