Tue. Jun 18th, 2019

Conservatives in meltdown- but what’s this about young people?

Generation Z- more traditional in their outlook than previous generations

THERE was some shocking news for the Conservatives in a poll held over the weekend, with only 6% of voters saying they would vote for them should the UK take part in the European Elections next month.

Predictably, with his talent for self-promotion and his overall media savviness, Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party were miles ahead of everyone in the poll organized by the Daily Express, gaining 80% of the vote amongst the 20,000 taking part.

Conservatives facing an absolute whipping at the polls

Even taking into account the nature of that paper’s readership, it’s obvious that the Conservative Party are facing an absolute whipping whenever the public are next invited to cast their votes in a new ballot.  Indeed, it’s not at all inconceivable that they could be facing a Canadian scenario, where the Conservatives could be virtually wiped out in one election as happened to the Canadian Conservative Party in 1993.

The Conservative political brand seems irretrievably tainted by the events of the past three years, and it would seem reasonable to assume that this would permeate into the wider society as well.

However, two surveys held recently by the University of Sheffield and the University of Southampton seem  to indicate a different picture altogether, as far as young people are concerned. Both surveys highlight the fact that Generation Z( born 1994-) are more conservatively-inclined than the three previous generation( Generation X, Millenials and Baby Boomers), describing themselves as “more right than left” on many issues. The authors summed it up by saying that these young people are now looking for “post-materialist values”

Young people rebelling against cultural orthodoxy of age

In a way, this is very predictable. After all, every generation likes to rebel against the orthodoxy of their age. And the cultural orthodoxy of the age has very much been monopolised by the left for many years. There are also suggestions that these young people dislike political correctness and the increasing group-think and intolerance of differing viewpoints that seem to be such a part of this modern outlook on life.

Indeed, I can see some of these tendencies in my own daughter and her friends who are around 18 or so, who are becoming increasingly sceptical about some of the more far-out elements which have gained such traction in the media and wider society over the past few years.

U Tube political commentator Dr Steve Turley has even made the outlandish suggestion that “conservatism is now the new punk rock”!

A very handy bogeyman for both Plaid and Labour

So, what does this general trend amongst the up and coming generation augur for us here in Wales? “Conservatism” has always been considered a toxic word in Wales for very good political, economic and social reasons.  Both Labour and Plaid have managed to use this factor very effectively over the years.

The “Tories”, ( one can almost hear former Plaid leader Leanne Wood uttering the word in sheer derision) have been a very handy whipping boy for both parties in galvanising their core vote here. On first glance, it would appear that this new phenomena amongst young people will be going nowhere at all in Wales.

But, it must also be recognised that conservatism with a small “c”, has always been a feature of life here, even in the two distinct areas of Wales where Labour and Plaid have monopolised things for so long, i.e the valleys and rural Wales.

This small “c” conservatism is in effect a phenomena set apart from the Conservative Party itself, and includes a sense of  personal responsibility, self-reliance,  a healthy scepticism about politicians and their ambitions, and a common-sense approach to life in general. Those values are unlikely to fade away whatever happens to the Conservatives as a party.

Ein Gwlad Comments:  It’s fascinating to ponder how things will pan out in Wales with this collapse in support for the Conservative Party, especially in view of the fact that they have consistently polled around 25% of the vote here.

As a hybrid party, seeking answers from all parts of the political spectrum,  hopefully some of Ein GWLAD’s common-sense ideas will be  able to appeal to sections of this audience, including the new younger generation which seem to be moving in this direction.

Although we do not identify with the Conservatives or indeed any of the present devolution parties in Wales, we believe that traditionalist values, over and above all political parties of whatever persuasion, are at the heart of  the Welsh national idea. Perhaps it was the Irish political thinker, Edmund Burke who expressed this sentiment best: “Society  is a contract, a partnership… not only between those  who are living, but those who are dead, and those who are to be born” 

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