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Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is wrong — my generation isn’t selfish or obsessed with cappuccinos

16 June 2014

Is Generation Y becoming more right wing and self-obsessed? Radio 4 broadcast a very interesting documentary tonight, Generation Right, on whether my generation is becoming more individualistic — featuring this parish’s Toby Young and Fraser Nelson. Both argued that some of our values might be perceived as right-wing but the trend isn’t that simple. Thanks to greater choice and empowerment of the individual, Generation Y is far less trusting of the state, which one could translate as a form of small-c conservatism.

The Independent’s Yasmin Alibhai-Brown is someone who believes that. She told Radio 4 my generation is selfish and spoilt:

‘…they’re a frightfully spoilt generation. They hate the fact they don’t get their student fees and everything paid for and they also hate the fact other people are getting benefits. So the only thing they want is benefit for themselves’ 

‘They’ve become very conservative and very selfish. If this carries on, we won’t have a welfare state and actually they may come to rue this, as they get older. We need to be talking much more across the generations’ 

Research from Demos suggests Generation Y doesn’t want to entirely destroy the welfare state. Instead, we want to make it work better. Nearly two thirds of Generation Y support helping the over 65s, compared to aiding those on out of work benefits.Who does Yasmin think is to blame for this trend? The Iron Lady of course: 

‘Margaret Thatcher (bless her) had a project that you had to look after yourself first and then your family and rest just had to make do. That just took hold.’ 

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And for the final insult, Alibhai-Brown lamented how uncaring Generation Y is about politics:

‘They’re so unpolitical so many young people. I was in Leeds on May Day and a May Day march was going through the centre. The entire precinct was full of young people. Did they even look in direction of their march? Too busy with their cappuccinos and nail polish. They’ve got to be more political.’ 

Although, I’ve personally found younger folks to be more interested in flat whites than cappuccinos, this is a perfect illustration of the divide between our generations. Yasmin is wrong to state that Generation Y isn’t political, it’s just not in the traditional forms. It’s rare to find a young person who cares about party politics or marches through town centres.

As research from Ipsos MORI suggests, young people do hold the views Yasmin argues make us selfish — spend less on welfare, reduced government spending and lower taxes. But it’s not that we don’t care about others, it’s that we don’t trust the government to solve our problems.

While the coalition (and Nick Clegg in particular) might be disliked for abandoning those without white hair, there’s no trust in Labour to provide a solution. Her generation wanted the state to help solve their problems. Mine want the government to leave us alone.

Tomorrow evening, James Delingpole, David Lammy MP and Jeremy Warner will be debating whether Generation Y are the ‘jilted generation’ at the British Library. Click here to book tickets.

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Show comments
  • RichardBaranov

    Sebastian, I don’t know why you would deign to reply to remarks by that dull minded women. Anything she has to say is as worthless as something on the sole of ones shoe after walking through a neighbourhood heavily frequented by dogs.

    • bugshead

      Indeed, my sentiments exactly

  • balance_and_reason

    Yasmin Alibi-Brown is wrong on most things.

  • Stan Walcot

    Yasmin who?

  • Terry Field

    They are undoubtedly the most stupefyingly trivial, profoundly ignorant, miserably self-obsessed, super-selfish, over-pampered, over-indulged, depressingly well (as a result of absurd public health indulgence) mean-minded unpleasant bunch of stinkfarts England has EVER produced.nThey are living proof that evolution is NOT concerned with the imperative of progress and improvement,
    BUT they are paragons of virtue when compared to the truly revolting Brown-Alybie.

    • TimeandtheRani

      Jesus, mate. I think you need to see someone. Nobody should have that much bitterness in them towards so many people.

      • Terry Field

        I am full of love for the achievements of mankind. Deforestation, slaughter, rape of the world, mass murder, poisoning on a continental scale, despoilation of a paradise given by God -rejected by hubristic madness.
        Creation of such joys and wonders as Slough, Calcutta, Detroit, Siberian labour camps, chicken nuggets, Blue Nun and Baltis, Jeremy Kyle, Milliband, Balls and that Chines bloke who insulted fair England today.
        I am sane and objective.
        It is you who needs treatment.

  • Ooh!MePurse!

    The last eight words in the headline are superfluous.

  • disqus_JXTaH3N9kU

    Aah, the old “youth of today” moan. This one has only been trotted out for the last 5000 years by EVERY generation in history

  • TimeandtheRani

    Right or wrong, it was her generation that kept voting for Thatcher. Seems harsh to blame this generation.

    • Terry Field

      A wise vote for a wonderful man

  • Jabez Foodbotham

    Good God. This foolish woman is wrong every time she opens her mouth. Why devote an article to a single instance of her stupidity.

  • CharlietheChump

    Even bfore she opens her mouth, picks up a pen or pulls her keyboard forward YAB is wrong. Always.

    What YAB says, do the opposite.

  • Marquess of Salisbury

    What! the people of Leeds ignored the May Day March. At least alibi-Brown admits that most people don’t share her politics!

  • hannathegreat

    And as for Alibi-Brown – she’s just a comic Lefty.

  • hannathegreat

    Thank god for Generation Y. Yes, I’d say it’s a generational thing, partly linked to the tech revolution which will hopefully help to make everything more efficient and demonstrate government is really a rather unnecessary evil….

  • Michael H Kenyon

    Why get in a tizzy about this mediocre journalist with a mediocre paper? Kids don’t even read papers, and they are not about to be politicised by the various ageing hacks saying how great it was in the days of protest movements. I’m more concerned about kids being assimilated into a corporate worldview and being managerialised – but the left substantially contributed to this themselves.

    • suzy61

      Mediocre? That good?

  • La Fold

    ‘…they’re a frightfully spoilt generation. They hate the fact they don’t get their student fees and everything paid for and they also hate the fact other people are getting benefits. So the only thing they want is benefit for themselves’
    Tad rich is it not, a woman who came from a generation who had free (at point of use) higher education, to call those expected to now pay for it as frightfully spoilt?
    If Jeremy Clarkson had written this the pitchforks and torches brigade at the Guardian and new statesman would have been out in force.

  • HookesLaw

    She is always wrong.

    • the viceroy’s gin

      …as are most of you socialists .

  • PeteCW

    She’s got a pretty good point about young people and student loans though – the student riots were just the petulant foot-stamping of over-excited, irrational brats. Interesting to see that view coming from the left.

  • right_writes

    The problem with that lefty woman and her kind is that they think that all problems can be solved through collectivist political and social “activism”.

    Usually this “activism” revolves around our political and social activists and commentators, spending our money on their pet subjects, most of which are collectivist and certainly not popular.

    (Incidentally, what is wrong with pursuing popular policies?)

    All the while, entrepreneurs, giant corporations and SME’s invent new ways to make life easier or more pleasant through the invention, production and sale of novelty…

    The only “generation” that our politicians and social engineers engender is the accumulation of our money, in their back pockets.

    The 1960/70’s lefties like this Brown woman have been rumbled by the young, and they aren’t amenable to their “jam tomorrow” policies. The problem with socialism and its milder variations like social democracy, is that we are all supposed to suspend , or rather compromise our short lives by putting most of our hard-earned into their pockets and trusting them.

    Apart from the fact that we know that they can’t be trusted, their plans are always about what we can do for you in the future, and to prove it, we are going to take you to the cleaners and rifle your pockets.

    • HookesLaw

      Just because a policy is populare does not make it right. It could be of course, but why should it be?

      Miliband came upmwith the jolly wheeze of freezing energy prices, the polling says it was popular. But was it right?

      • right_writes

        But it doesn’t make it wrong…

        Or more relevant to the average dim lefty on the college campus, might be:

        Why is it right to think that collectivism and collectivist thought is normal, when it is perhaps (outside of the immediate blood relationship) one of the most tenuous and unnatural forms of thought.

        • Andy

          Lefties steal other peoples money which they squander with abandon. We need to destroy the lefts ability to steal our money and that means attacking their power bases. You can do that by turing off the tap of taxpayers money.

  • bugshead

    Yasmin Alibaba is virtually unreadable, she seems to write to court controversy largely related to her own ethnicity. This latest vacuous claptrap has spoilt my cappucino.

  • Adam Carter

    ‘spend less on welare, reduced government spending and lower taxes.But it’s not that we don’t care about others, it’s that we don’t trust the government to solve our problems.’
    I’m not young, and that is the way I think.
    I’m very pleased to see this thinking spreading.

  • Adam Carter

    ‘Yasmin Alibai-Brown is wrong.’

    In other news: ‘Dog Bites Man’

  • Bonkim

    Self contained and busy with their smart-phones and facebook posts. Very little intellectual content in discussion, poor in communication – little wonder their growing up stages were spent in their bedrooms watching TV or playing computer games. The present generation lacks intellectual rigour and politics is about thinking outside the box and what role you can and should play in society..

  • Smithersjones2013

    Mine want the government to leave us alone.

    And so what does the ‘brains trust’ that is little Sebby do? Spend months on end writing garbage intended to undermine the one party who would leave them alone!


  • John Smith

    Why are we concerned about YAB’s views. Have you ever heard her, or read her writing?

    • Wessex Man

      We should always be concerned by airheads like her getting continual air time to spout their slanted views, they influence people, as with the smears against UKip, those smears did in fact turn quite a few people off of our party, yet if you Google misbehaving Councillors we are small fry compared to the deeds of theirs!

      The chief propagandist of the BBC’s Have I got News for You, Ian Hislop was on Question Time loudly pointing out that UKip’s time was done after failing at Newark, completely ignoring the fact we came second in a safe seat and the Lib/dums lost their deposit.

      They hope and it does work in the end that this sort of propaganda will influence people.

  • realfish

    Does anyone really take any notice of what this woman has to say?

    • Wessex Man

      unfortunately, you can guarrantee it the BBC, Sky or ITV needs a talking head who soesn’t really know anything they invite her along with Polly of course.

      • Hexhamgeezer

        Polly and Yas – political Zen. Infinite emptiness.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Yasmin Alibhai Brown is the ultimate in consumer testing. If she says it’s wrong then it has to be right. YAB is a complete fool.

    • DavidL

      Amen to that. A good guiding principle in life is: whatever YAB thinks, think the opposite.

  • global city

    This woman is the ultimate example of those on the Left who ‘feel’ issues, but have never given a seconds actual thought to anything.

    • Makroon

      When the “commentariat” start commenting on each other – especially on the low-credibility, outer reaches of their club – you know they have nothing more to contribute.

  • Hexhamgeezer

    Apart from her dusky hue, is there any reason why that risible buffoon is given the time of day by the MSM?

  • the viceroy’s gin

    Heh. It’s funny, you Speccie kids fancying yourselves as “conservative”.

  • Snoxy01

    I’ve rarely been more angry about condescending, patronising comments. Generation Y have a lot to be angry about. The financial crisis has left the young with enormous debt to pay off, tuition fees have not just gone up but tripled whereas state handouts to the baby boom generation are locked in place and protected.

    House prices are 7-8 times salary compared with 3-4 times in the past. Try to build new ‘garden cities’ to lower prices – good luck.

    Do they blame the baby boom generation – no. The correctly blame politicians, bankers and tax avoiding corporations.

    More seriously though, the aging population means our democracy risks being slanted towards the older generation – so why would the young trust the state when it’s failed to save anything to care for the elderly generation it should have seen coming.

    Read this today, by coincidence

    • Rossspeak

      I can fully understand your anger – but having seen the Lady spouting total nonsense on Question Time and other programmes on many occasions – I suggest you don’t let her get under your skin.
      Those who patronise while talking crap only make themselves look foolish, prejudiced and out of touch with reality.

      • Snoxy01

        I know – I’m stewing over my cappuccino as I write

        • Airey Belvoir

          Flat White, surely?

    • Smithersjones2013

      Our ‘democracy’ has always been slanted towards ‘the older generation’ (those over 35 I’ll take that as) because the older you get the more vulnerable you become. The young generally have their health and fitness (comparatively speaking) and generally their parents at a pinch to fall back on. Government should always be slanted towards those most vulnerable in society.

      As for house prices would you rather the restricted immigration, the 25% inflation and 15% interest rates that previous generations have had to cope with that helped suppress demand for housing? Oh and as for debt the Baby Boomers had World War II to pay for and in terms of % of GDP what Generation Y has to pay off is nothing compared to what the Baby boomers had to pay off. In 1947 debt was 240% of GDP today it is around 80%

      So whilst you have my sympathy you are not the first generation to experience such perceived deprivations nor I suspect will you be the last…..

      PS Ignore YAB. She is a complete idiot in just about everything she thinks says or writes.

      • Snoxy01

        Obviously generation Y – of which I’m not one btw – aren’t the only generation with issues, but I believe they will suffer a unique set of circumstances that should garner the older generation’s sympathy.

        The debt / GDP ratio isn’t as high as post war but there the very inflation you speak of reduced it to 80% by 1970 – so actually, given wage increases roughly in line with inflation, the baby boom generation didn’t actually pay it off in real terms. This is a luxury we don’t have today. A baby boomer would only be 20ish by 1970 anyway, so their parents paid it off in fact.

        The biggest issue is the aging population and the large increases in public spending for them. This is the first time a large cohort will become pensioners, only half of people survived until 65 in 1950. Despite this being an obvious fact, no provision has been made to pay for the services put in place by successive governments.

        Only 4 structural surpluses have been run since 1970 so the baby boomers have voted for large public services and now rely on a relatively small cohort of taxpayers to pay for it. Pensions are triple locked, healthcare is ring fenced yet tuition fees triple, housing costs spiral and any benefits are under threat to pay of these increased services.

        Not the only generation to have problems, but issues that should be viewed sympathetically. Especially by baby boomers, its generation Y that will pay for the services they voted for.

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