Does the coalition hate young people?

22 January 2011

The real question raised by Suzanne Moore’s latest impassioned piece for The Guardian is whether the coalition government likes young people
at all, or even gave them a thought when considering their cuts-reform double whammy.
Here’s the rub: “There are no jobs. The most beautifully manicured CV will not get you a minimum-wage job in a pub. Your brilliant degree is meaningless when what employers
repeatedly emphasise is ‘experience’… Every rite of passage of becoming an adult – a job, an income you can live on, affordable housing, independence from parents – is being
taken away.”

This is overstated for effect. It isn’t quite true that there are no jobs, but there are very few. And many of those that exist are unpaid internships on the margins of legality that should
not really be called jobs at all. This week I spoke to a chief executive of one of the big companies still running a graduate trainee scheme who said this year’s cohort did not have a single
friend with a job.
It is possible to argue the case for tripling tuition fees (the fairest way to maintain university funding), abolishing the Education Maintenance Allowance (most people who received it would have
stayed on at 16 anyway) and abolishing the Future Jobs Fund (there are better ways of getting young people back to work than a sixth month job subsidy for employers). But the combined effect means
that young people could be forgiven for thinking they are being targeted for a special dose of misery.
This week’s unemployment figures show that one in five 16 to 24-year-olds are now out of work, which already means they are being disproportionately hit by the current crisis.
Ministers will soon need to have an answer to the question: What are you doing for young people who want to work? This may not yet be a lost generation but it is lost to the coalition unless it
moves quickly to prove that it has at least considered their interests.

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Show comments
  • rndtechnologies786

    Good think.

  • Josey

    I am in my final year at university and without a doubt every week without fail there are job cuts, my degree is in sociology and many of the social sector jobs have been cut. I have worked since the day I turned 16 which was 8 years ago up until recently when I was made redundant on my part time job. I am now worried that I will never find a job with all these cuts, it seems the more I try and better myself and give something back to society the government are there punishing my efforts… Under labour I would be able to do my phd or maybe teaching but that now seems impossible with the tuition fee rise and grant cuts!!!
    All these people boasting coalition government is great and thinks the conservative is doing a good job… Many are probably born in to better off families, seems poor people and young people aren’t getting or should u say the opportunity us getting stopped to get their foot on the success ladder as am I!!! If David Cameron and nick clegg could charge a price for oxygen they would… All these cuts will lead to very High unemployment and very high drug and crime rate.. I am not looking forward to the future under these prats… They are too extreme

  • Martin Bright

    Always helps to read the piece rather than assuming you know what I said from the headline. Of course the coalition doesn’t hate young people. It was a question. But they are doing a very good impression of looking like they don’t care. The point is that the coalition could lose the support of the young and may already have done so. And by definition a coalition needs all the support it can get.

  • cuffleyburgers

    Come on martin don’t be an idiot, there are few jobs because taxes are too high because government borrowing and spending are too high because we are just emerging from the shadow of 13 years of government by idiots, or possibly worse, socialists, trying to buy their political careers using the moeny of unborn generations.

    Until that major problem is fixed, which the coalition is trying halfheartedly to do, we as a nation will get nowhere.

  • Edward McLaughlin

    RIchard Manns

    What do you mean?

  • Richard Manns

    Well, let’s apply some basic maths, shall we?

    There are more and mroe old people, and they all more more than the young people.

    This really should answer your question, Mr Bright.

  • Edward McLaughlin

    The Coalition does not hate young people.

    As mere economic resources in a global economy awash with low-cost, aspirant youth, our own young people are regarded in government circles, rather with amused indifference. Precisely the same regard as was held by our previous government.

    Let’s hear it for the ‘Big Society’.

  • Beverley

    Don’t be so silly Martin. This is not a socialist government. It’s socialists who hate, socialists who do bile and vitriol, socialists who denigrate, demean,despise and destroy.

    Ever heard a tory say “I hate Labour”? I have heard plenty of Labour people say “I hate tories”. I’ve never heard “Labour scum” being said by those on the right, but “tory scum” is a popular epithet of the left.

    What we need to get through to the young is that they are not hated, they are simply on the receiving end of a huge socialist mess that needs cleaning up. They need to be reminded of why they should never vote Labour.

  • Adrian Sells

    Actually the High Fliers’ graduate job survey shows prospects are improving, rather bearing out the anecdotal comments from Fergus Pickering and others.
    I am sure that competition is tougher than it was for graduates, but that is merely the result of there being too many of them about as a result of government targets. Perhaps they should retrain as plumbers, carpenters, electricians etc and help solve the skilled immigration problem.

  • Jon Rosenberg

    Given the coalition’s work to reduce the deficit will massively benefit the young over the old in the long term and that this is overwhelmingly the most important policy of our era, then no there’s no substance in the argument at all.

  • pottsy

    No, the coalition don’t hate young people; rather they hate the UK being saddled with a monstrous deficit, which they are trying their best to get rid of.
    Son of the manse maxed out the UK’s credit cards and the young (as well as the rest of us) are suffering the consequences.

  • NBeale

    This is twaddle. We’re a v small company and we hired a new graduate last year, in a job paid well above average. All his housemates have well paid jobs and AFAIK most of his friends do unless they are doing Masters/PhDs. This quarter we expect to hire 3 more people who may well be under 25 and our biggest concern is finding the talent.

  • Phil

    Does the coalition hate youngsters?
    No but labour’s obscene debt legacy does

    A more salient question should be
    Is the coalition pixxing off savers(its core vote) and the answer to that one is YES!

  • Ken Bishop

    Normanc (and thers): too right. I personally know any people from eastern Europe who found work within days of arriving – in Liverpool! Not all of them even speak Engglish. There _are_ jobs, even in unemployment hotspots such as here. It is miserable and unfair for young adults to face such a dreary job market, but unemployment remains a choice.

    If people from E Europe etc. were not allowed to work here, their useful work would simply not get done. We gain from those visitors who work.

  • Rhoda Klapp

    And all this has happened since May? That coalition lot must be more effective than I give them credit for.

  • normanc

    If two out of three jobs are being taken by immigrants (and I have no doubt that is true) then we must ask why.

    Maybe we need to get used to the fact we are in a very diverse labour market now and have younger people lower their sights? If someone from Portugal is willing to do a job at 35% less than a Brit then, under current rules, why shouldn’t the employer hire the Portuguese? And why should the Brit expect to be paid more for the same job than Johnny Foreigner?

    Unless you advocate leaving the EU (as I do) then there’s nothing to complain about.

  • Fergus Pickering

    Wel my daughter’s got a job. And my other daughter’s just finishing and I expect her to have a job next year. And all their friends have got jobs. But they do get out of bed in the morning and they do have something to offer and, of course, they are GIRLS. And neither piss-heads, nor potheads, though, being girls, they like spending money. Which i good for the economy, isn’t it? Who cares what silly journos write the the Grauniad, anyway?

  • AlanL

    The government’s actions on the deficit are saving the young generation from years of IMF loans and crippling cuts and taxes (much worse than anything happening now). This is what would happen if we took the Balls/Brown approach of not dealing with it. It’s the young generation who will mainly benefit – but of course they are too short sighted to realise (as youth always is).

  • Tim

    I’ve no idea if the coalition hates young people or not. I doubt that it does. But the tripling of university fees and the £2.9bn cut in direct funding through the HEFCE has certainly not maintained the ability of universities to offer courses. See: for example.

  • Alex R


    Most of the items in the list you reproduce aren’t in the government’s gift. But the generational impact of the government and other authorities’ actions (whether intentional or knock on) does deserve more attention.

  • Pep

    Interesting how this is the coalition’s fault. Let’s look at this:

    “There’s no jobs” – there are jobs. Maybe not jobs young people want to do, but there are jobs.

    “A degree is meaningless when employers want experience” – rather than blaming the current government, how about the Guardian blames the previous one. You know, the one which wanted 50% of young people to go to uni, regardless of whether that was the best option for them. Maybe Gordon Brown should have focussed on young people getting skills and experience useful to the workplace.

    “Affordable housing” – again, how is that the fault of the current government. Wasn’t it during the Labour years that there was a housing bubble which put the cost of housing out of reach of many people – not just the young?

    I’ve actually now read the whole article and I’m still unsure why the current government’s the one getting the blame, when the build up of all these problems happened over the last 13-14 years. Hmmm….what else happened in 1997???

  • Alex Gallagher

    @George Laird, they could hate poor people and young people at the same time…..

  • yank

    So its pet coalition is in trouble, and the Spectator’s response is to move to the Left? That it, then? This is well and truly a death spiral, now.

    Labor, then. It’s coming, so might as well get on with it.

  • Boudicca

    A recent report showed that two out of every three new jobs being created are being taken by immigrants.

    Immigrants, primarily from eastern countries of the EU, are taking most of the entry-level jobs in the UK. Employers would rather have over-qualified foreigners with a good work ethic, than our own youngsters, with or without a degree who have no work experience and whose basic skills may well not be up to scratch. English is the first foreign language of choice for all of the EU – so we may well soon start seeing an influx of Portuguese, Spanish and Greeks as well as the Irish who have always had the right to work here.

    Until we can stop unlimited immigration from Europe – which means leaving the EU – we can do nothing about this.

  • Verity

    Get rid of the foreigners. British jobs for British people. Remember? Dump the EU. Dump the egregious “Human Rights Act” — also known as “Employment for Life for Lawyers And Judges”.

    Is there a patriot anywhere in Westminster? I haven’t spotted any.

  • Tankus

    Nope ..Gordon Brown does..that’s why he has destroyed their future

  • George Laird

    Dear Martin

    You ask:

    “Does the coalition hate young people?”

    No, they hate poor people!

    Need to know anything else give me a shout and I will get back to you.

    Yours sincerely

    George Laird
    The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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