The Millennials or generation Y refers to those reaching adulthood in the 21st Century. I never thought much about this generation until the phenomenon of Brexit and Corbyn. The Millennials are typically pro-Remain and Pro-Corbyn. The obvious contradiction reflects a form of cognitive dissonance that seems to plague this generation. When challenged on why they supported Corbyn when the Lib Dems offered a clear pro-Remain platform the answer is always ‘tuition fees’. There is little thought in this response because if there were they would realise that the Lib Dems were never in power. They were in a coalition and in coalition one must make compromises. The Lib Dems successfully moderated a harsh Tory programme but to do so they had to give up some sacred cows. The inability to accept this is a another sign of cognitive dissonance.
The Millennials stand in stark contrast to baby boomers. The latter worked hard and prioritized home ownership, family, and financial security. They were self-reliant and tended to accept that sacrifices were necessary for a better future. These features are present irrespective of politics. Attitudes to wealth and work-life-balance veered more to wealth. The baby boomers, certainly in the UK, are a lucky generation. They have enjoyed an unusual period of peace and prosperity. Life expectancy has increased markedly. Many have reached their Shangrila of a ‘comfortable retirement’. They are the parents and the grandparents of millennials. The contrast is stark.
Millennials are confronted with relatively low pay, high accommodation costs, and high unsecured debt levels. They blame the baby boomers, their parents, their grandparents. But what the baby boomers see is the cognitive dissonance. The Millennials seem to lack ambition in financial terms. Pursuing wealth is not fashionable. Taking jobs they deem unpleasant in order to earn a bit more is not consistent with their priority of work-life-balance. They like to do ‘socially useful’, creative jobs. Such jobs do not always pay well. So the Millennials often find themselves living at home or getting ‘early inheritance’ from the baby boomers. They don’t mind doing this (cognitive dissonance again) because of course the baby boomers, their parents, their grandparents, do not deserve this wealth. No one should have more wealth than they need. The attraction of Corbyn now makes sense.
The Millennials are fundamentally geared to a socialist political view. It is not an ideological conclusion born of deep study of history, sociology, and economics. It is a psychological outcome. In order to reconcile the discomfort of the cognitive dissonance generated by the desire to live a less stressed life and the consequent need to accept help from the baby boomers, they reject the validity of private wealth and reclassify the help as a right. The baby boomers do not deserve it. It is all their fault anyway.
The implication for future voting patterns is clear. The growth of life expectancy has slowed markedly (making insurance shares better value I should add) and the baby boomers will die. The Millennials are set to dominate the electorate. The socialist narrative that has taken root will be driving voting outcomes. Corbyn and Momentum are in the ascendancy. The only thing that can disrupt this is the EU debate and recognition that Corbyn is even more committed to Brexit than the PM. However, the socialist narrative seems to still hold sway and overwhelm the internationalist inclinations of the Millennials. The future of the Conservative Party is poor whatever happens.