I have often thought that our society places far too great an emphasis on youth. When people like David Cameron, Justin Trudeau, or ‘Mayor Pete’ Buttigieg were elected or appointed – much was made of their youth. Being someone who had an inordinate fondness for Aristotle, I demurred. Politicians, I felt, should be old. Legislators should, like the members of the Spartan Gerousia, be above sixty and suitably weighed down with the accumulated experience of that age. Youth is overvalued – experience undervalued.
To a great degree, I remain firm in this sentiment. However, it is expected that the old, in the evening of their lives, should be thinking of the mornings they shall not see. Namely, the next generation. This expectation has been failed by all the major British political parties.
The Conservatives have happily presided over the practical incarceration of the young over a virus which, ultimately, does not affect us overly much. Our education, social lives, love lives, have all been placed on hold for the benefit of ‘saving’ institutions which should be serving us and not the other way around. What fun it will be to tell our future children the stories of our halcyon university days when we stayed inside for months alternating between stultifying online lectures and bleeding Netflix dry of their entire available catalogue. We must also not forget that this policy has been enthusiastically supported by Labour, the Scottish Nationalists, and the Liberal-Democrats. In many cases, the aforementioned parties have even encouraged the restrictions to go even further. The burden of being young under the Sturgeon Regime is a fate so terrible that it should make all those lucky enough to live in England count their blessings.
The pandemic restrictions are not all, however. After we collect our degrees (in a socially distanced fashion, of course) the newly graduated are faced with blisteringly high taxes and with the repayment of student loans which serve as an additional financial burden. The lowering of loan repayment to below minimum wage has made it prohibitively costly for many to go to university. All of this in order to preserve the comfort of aged pensioners. God Save the Triple Lock!
If there is any issue behind which all major British political parties are united behind, however, it is housing policy. There is a housing crisis in Britain; the old Conservative belief in home-ownership appears to be dead to the modern Conservative Party. There seems to be no willingness to make up the dearth of affordable housing. Quite the opposite in fact; the Liberal-Democrats eagerly crow about their staunch unwillingness to stymie any local developments. Oftentimes, it seems the only hope for increased housing is that the Duchy of Cornwall seizes charge of all British housing policy – although even the Prince of Wales’s aesthetically pleasing and environmentally conscious housing developments face the frenzied protests of NIMBY banshees. It’s either the ducal takeover or a Maoist Liquidation of the Landlords. Speaking of landlords - young professionals seem doomed to decades of being renters, their only hope being the possible inheritance of a family home. This lack of housing will prove to be a growing sore for the conservative cause. Being a home-owner is not simply some neoliberal Thatcherite principle which can easily be discarded with. Owning a house, or more importantly a home, is the basis for all that which conservatism should seek to defend. The certainty of home-ownership is the foundation upon which the beginning of the family is laid. The passing down of a home to one’s eventual children is a sacred and profound thing – the core of tradition.
For myself and many of my friends, being young in the Conservative Party is an increasingly untenable position. We are asked to sacrifice for a country which it seems increasingly likely that we shall not inherit. We have sacrificed years of our life and been thanked with only increased suspicion and even blame for further prolonging the pandemic. Opportunities for us seem to be dwindling at a dangerously fast rate. It is in circumstances such as these that rancour and resentment against what the young do not possess builds. As the bile in our mouth continues to linger, those in power should not be surprised if the young turn either to radical revolutionism or – more likely perhaps among my peers – simply leave.
Like the youth of Spain, Italy, Poland, Romania, and Russia, I have no doubt that it will soon be the young British university graduate who departs to find a better situation in the United States or somewhere in the Commonwealth. I daresay I will be on that ship when it departs.