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Britain's future conservative majority

A leader in this week's Sunday Telegraph entitled "Young conservatives", praised what it sees as rebellious conservatism in modern teenagers:

Teenagers "A rebellious lot, teenagers: always looking for ways to challenge the mores of their parents' generation. When the Establishment comprised rich landowners, hanging judges and retired colonels, young people became beatniks. Today, the Establishment is a very different creature, made up of human rights lawyers, anti-racism campaigners, poverty activists, sluttish models and gimcrack contemporary artists. So, naturally, our young people reject it. A survey of 1,000 teenagers suggests that we have bred a generation of fine, upstanding throwbacks. They want good jobs, believe in the family and disdain television celebrities. As always, of course, there are exceptions to the rule: those who slavishly chalk up Asbos in mimicry of the drunken antics of their elders. If only these particular tearaways could be persuaded to follow the herd."

It's based on a survey by the excellent Scout Association, which shows amongst other things that they are very positive about the role of parents and the family unit, negative about celebrity role models, and keen to achieve financial independence.

I also recall an extensive British Social Attitudes survey in 2004 that showed the majority of teenagers to be monarchist, pro-life, eurosceptic, untrusting of Blair, and worried about excessive immigration - certainly more so than their swinging sixties parents.

These are all considered laudable attitudes by most conservatives, but I'd say they are deeper than simply reactions against the status quo in the way it is fashionable to not support the governing party of the day.  Perhaps it is comparable to the surge in the number of young, often good-looking (this is well-documented!), female Republican activists? I went to a very conservative conference in DC last year and was surprised at how many young women there were. When I asked them why this was, they said it was largely a backlash against feminism.

The Party is making some ground with this generation - a poll almost exactly a year ago recorded a 7% bounce in student support in the few months from Cameron becoming leader. It will take more than a fresh face and Converse trainers to truly win over the next generation however.

Young people, often searching for purpose and meaning in their adolescence, do like to feel they are fighting the tide, "raging against the machine", etc. I believe we need a Reaganesque optimism and idealism, that combines a championing of traditional social values and responsibilities with greater freedom for individuals from an overbearing government led by unpopular politicians - all empowered by "new media".

I hope you'll forgive this being more editorial in tone than usual, and share your own take on this in the comments...


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