Right now, I feel extremely lucky to have been born in 1985. This is a very new feeling. We were the first guinea pigs to be fed the new modular A Level syllabuses; we narrowly missed out on receiving the Education Maintenance Allowance; we were asked to take out loans for tuition fees; and we also missed out on the Child Trust Fund and other such things. These are all invariably “good things” under various guises. But they are all being meddled with.
And, of course, the younger people are not happy. No more Child Trust Funds. No more Education Maintenance Allowances. Sweeping changes to post-16 education. Phenomenal increases to tuition fees. Why? Because the rich oldies made us poor, and don’t have to pay it back.
That’s the perception. And with that perception in mind, it is understandable for them to angry. Ultimately, they are being asked to pay when the big companies have seemingly got away with it.
That is, of course, no excuse for violence and vandalism. Given that trying to make a noise is greeted with condemnation anyway, the actions of rioters were futile — it made no difference to the decision and generated apathy and derision from the press and public. In contrast, a quiet, peaceful protest would have been completely ignored (most were) and generated a modest amount of sympathy.
It’s sad. What can we offer young people? Not much work, not much support; education isn’t a viable alternative. Don’t expect any sympathy from the welfare system, and don’t expect anyone to be able to afford to put you up for the night.
Of course, if you have rich parents you needn’t worry. You can get your civil servants to do all the hard graft.