Jeeeesus it depresses me to encounter so much conservatism among the young these days. I’m doing a degree for dubious reasons at a university in the lower 90s of the uni league tables and I keep meeting young people who support David Cameron – who want to sleep with David Cameron, for Christ’s sake – young people who support the vicious cuts the Prime Minister and his previously Liberal Deputy are making to deal with the budget deficit. Fuck the libraries. Fuck nationally-owned woodland. Fuck EMAs and higher education – the tripling of tuition fees isn’t a problem – better do that than risk our capacity to defend our beleaguered shores by getting rid of Trident missiles. Better privatise the NHS than stop making foreign wars. You think I’m exaggerating the conservatism of these kids? You should talk to them. I get treated like an old lunatic when I suggest there’s an alternative view in these matters. They have absolutely no sense of how the inroads true liberalism and socialism made into capitalist society in the twentieth century has made their own life more civilised. How, without social reformers on the liberal side, without the Labour Party and the unions, there’d be no right to secondary, much less further, education; they’d be working longer hours (some are working ridiculous hours again, of course), with few safety regulations to protect them in the workplace; they’d have fewer, if any, paid holidays; no right to withdraw their labour when their employer treats them unfairly (although that’s another freedom which is disappearing fast because of the ignorance, indifference and self-serving conservatism of a good deal of the population); without Labour there’d be no health service free at the point of access either. And people can criticise the NHS as much as they like, but for those of us without money, without rich parents and the posturepaedic mattress of privilege – those of us who, like me, are in poor health as well through no fault of their own – the NHS is desperately needed.
Some of these students are so conservative they have even complained about the supposed left wing bias of University lecturers. Can you imagine anything more intrinsically a part of the Establishment than a University lecturer, however he or she votes? It seems to have been the suggestion by a particular guy in a lecture on post-colonial literature that
should be ashamed of what it did in England and India Africa that upset these young Toryboys and Torygirls. He was accused, to my personal astonishment – and exasperation – of presenting a biased, Marxist opinion instead of a balanced view for the students to consider. Is there another way of looking at slavery? Is it ethically wrong for another lecturer to say as an aside that he didn’t like Margaret Thatcher? He wasn’t presenting that as a fact, he was just saying what he thought, and looking directly at me when he said it, knowing that I thought the same. They don’t mind having mainstream, predominantly Euro- and ethnocentric literature and poetry rammed down their throats all day long, though. I tried to point out the political agenda behind the writing they were made to study and the Follow My Leader structure of a degree – where one is seen to be advancing intellectually the more he learns to imitate the writing style and the point of view of the lecturers – when I debated the matter with some of them on Facebook, but predictably I was just pissing into the wind. Now I’ve come to the realisation that I have to stop talking to them about it, because they annoy me so much I end up snapping at my girlfriend. I don’t know what’s happening these days, I’m sure. It seems to me that the old are prepared to fight stupidity and injustice and many of the young won’t give a shit about anything except handbags and designer sunglasses unless it’s endorsed by a famous, unfunny comedian. We had three people from the 2010 intake of students at on the demonstration against tuition fees in Northampton in November. Three people; and one of them was me. And I didn’t see anybody on the picket line outside the Uni on Thursday when the lecturers were on strike. But I did see an awful lot of students driving over the picket line made up like they were auditioning for tv and driving nice shiney little cars their daddy must have bought for them. London