My children have obviously been pondering the whole issue of inter-generational equity today.
They have just told me that – with regret – they and their friends will be unable to make any contribution to my generation’s health and social care needs in later life.
Something to do with sauces and geese.
Anyway here’s the orginal post approved by the RPS children.
The RPS infants are not fire-breathing radicals intent on the overthrow of the state. Nevertheless their reaction to yesterday’s events in London may explain why young people are so angry.
My mild-mannered children are seething. The cause? They feel silly because they believed what they heard. They heard the words, ‘I pledge to vote against … ‘ and took them at face-value without seeing any small print or hearing any mental reservation. When you feel you have been had in such an egregious way you get cross.
Of course it doesn’t help that Mrs RPS and I did issue a health warning at the time about politicians’ promises – ‘like pie crust – made to be broken’. They dismissed us as cynics. These guys were different, they said. We want the ‘new politics’ they promise. But, of course, instead they got the old politics. And they’re as mad as hell.
I watched the votes with our two youngest last night and then quite a bit of the televised mayhem from London.
They were bemused by the parliamentary process particularly that they couldn’t immediately tell who had voted for what. As that tale unfolded their contempt was withering. They dismissed the Labour jeering as ‘pathetic’ but that was positively polite next to the terms they used to describe the Liberal Democrats.
I asked why they weren’t as angry with the Conservatives. They told me that they knew the Tories were ‘nasty’ and they didn’t support them anyway. No, their wrath was directed at the other partners in the coalition in general and at those who followed their leader in voting for the proposals in particular. (I should add that the abstainers are viewed with particular scorn.)
We have always encouraged our children to question what they see in the world around them. To think. So I tried to put the liberal democrat case. They had to compromise. The national finances were worse than they expected. There are no up front fees. And so on. It was unavailing.
My children have a command of the brief that filled me with pride.
They dismiss no up front fees. They point out that they are ambitious and want to be earning over £21,000 a year. So they believe that they will definitely have a bill of some where over £30,000 to pay.
They dismiss the deficit reduction argument. If it was about that they say the government would be introducing it with more urgency and, they have heard, that the scheme overall is likely to cost the taxpayer rather than save. They think the proposals are about shifting the financial burden of producing an educated work force on to students.
They dismiss the ‘we had to compromise’ argument too. They didn’t compromise over changing the voting system did they, they ask? They thought ‘students, who cares?’
Talking with my children took me into the world as they see it right now. It’s not a great place to be. As they rehearsed the things they are worried about I was taken straight to Patrick Butler’s cuts blog piece about how government choices around deficit reduction were impacting on young people.
My children are anticipating starting their working lives encumbered by huge debts, in a labour market where graduate unemployment is worryingly high, where housing is unaffordable and with parents who simply will not be able to help financially.
They do not see their future as being one alight with promise and opportunity. In many ways they are dreading it. No wonder our young people are cross. They have been comprehensively had.
At the ‘all you can eat’ buffet of our national life the sharp-elbowed baby-boomers have stripped the groaning tables like locusts leaving a few green leaves and the odd stick of celery. My children and their peers feel their treatment at the hands of older generations is deeply, deeply unfair.
But from my conversations with my children I would caution any other political party against complacency. The kids loathe you all. The depth of the contempt in which you are held by my children makes it difficult for me to think of any practical way you might regain their trust.
For example, they thought you meant it when you said you would give voters the right to recall errant MPs. They now know you meant it in a quite specific way that means they will not be able to recall any of you who broke your word.
Interestingly my two also had something to say about AV. Forget it, seemed to be drift. Anything that makes it easier for professional politicians to wriggle out of doing the things that induced them to vote for you is off their agenda. They are less concerned with having every vote count than with making sure that their vote delivers the thing they voted for.
They want a voting system that keeps you honest not just in office.
I told you they were cross. I would be too.