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Digital Subscriptions > Prospect Magazine > July 2017 > Revenge of the millennials

Revenge of the millennials

No party can ignore the concerns of the young—they’re angry and now they’re voting

Early on 9th June, the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg pronounced the great lesson of 2017: “This is the election where young people started voting. And it may seem that for all the political parties, the demographics of who they have to please might be shifting.” Or, to put it more bluntly, ignore the generational divide at your peril.

Theresa May never addressed them, at least not coherently, and she has suffered the consequences. Just ask Rob Wilson, the parliamentary under secretary for civil society who lost Reading East. He described the Tory catastrophe not in terms of a failure to attract the aspirational classes, the Mondeo man or whatever this year’s equivalent of Worcester Woman is supposed to be. His post-mortem was all about age. He said that May’s manifesto— with its “dementia tax,” and axing of pensioner perks—sent an “Exocet missile” through their support base, the old. At the same time Jeremy Corbyn stole a march with the young, with a clear offer including, prominently, the scrapping of student fees.

It is already clear (see “Speed Data,” p16) that seats with more younger voters saw a sharper spike in turnout, and in the Labour share. This is no one-off. The European Union referendum split starkly by age: 75 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted to “Remain,” a mirror image of the split among pensioners.

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In Prospect’s July issue: Steve Richards, Rachel Sylvester and Shiv Malik—as well as Chris Hanretty and Julian Glover—cover the fallout from the recent general election. Richards looks at how the assumptions of centrist politics were upended and how Labour managed to stun the nation—a point that Chris Hanretty explores in more detail, explaining how Corbyn turned the tide for social democracy. Sylvester questions how Theresa May managed to squander her majority—Julian Glover says it wasn’t just May’s failure, the ideas were flawed, too. Shiv Malik explores the remarkable surge in the youth vote and says parties can no longer ignore their concerns. Also in this issue: Dexter Dias argues that to understand terrorism we need to better understand human nature, Paul Wallace looks at the state of the state and asks whether the government is capable of fulfilling large scale changes to the way the state works and Sam Tanenhaus profiles Mike Pence—should we be worried about him becoming the next president?
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