2020 06 – Baby Boomers and Modern Politics

Talking About My Boomer Generation

By Gwydion M. Williams

In 2015, there wasn’t a huge gap between how the young and old voted.  Under 30 they voted 36% Labour to 32% Tory.  25% and 45% for 60 and older.  But between those two extremes, not much difference.

In 2017, the difference was extreme.  Labour had a clear majority among people under 50.  More than 60% of the votes of those under 30.  But among the Baby Boomer generation, my generation, people born between 1946 and 1964, support for Tories and rejection of Labour became much stronger.[1] And I’d suppose it was likewise for the War Babies, born between 1939 and 1945, who were slightly older within the Youth Rebellion of the 1960s and were often its leaders.

Much the same held in 2019.  Maybe a slight shift to Tories, because the discontented who might vote Labour also knew that Brexit would be further delayed unless the Tories won decisively.  And as I showed in a previous article, in England it was mostly people failing to vote for Labour.  The Tory vote increasing little despite the lack of a serious alternative Brexit candidate in most of the seats the Tories held.[2]

A curiously similar situation exists in the USA.  The young mostly preferred Sanders and new politics to Biden and another round of failed Clinton / Obama politics.  But antagonism to Trump scared enough voters to make it almost certain that the weakling Biden will face Trump.

These clear but under-reported facts have not convinced most of the pundits.  These often don’t bother to look at what the young are doing, except when they are either criminals or else consumers of cultural products sold to them by their seniors

Labour needs to think otherwise.  And might usefully commission YouGov or some other respected agency to get hard data on just these facts.  Show the voting and other relevant attitudes of Baby Boomers, War Babies, and the various named generations since then.

Baby Boomers who opted for Thatcherism are now offended by the modern world they helped create.  My generation: and I remember well that a majority of them were only interested in radicalism when it served their selfish interests.

They were greedy then.  And as they aged, most have got worse.

Rebels against The System even when they became The System.  It does not make for good government, as the current Covus-19 crisis is vividly showing.

It was a cultural liberation.  But a liberation that also weakened or destroyed the security and welfare of the less fortunate.

People born since the 1960s may not have heard of a pop group called The Who – though that generation as a whole were highly creative, and their influence lingers.

Songs from The Who were catchy, but even at the time I had a low opinion of them.  Saw them as silly little whiners.  Much worse than most of the whining selfish majority of a generation whose commitment to others was weak.

Even The Beatles, far more positive than most, broke with tradition in simply ignoring requests for free charity work that previous musical successes had respected.

Later bands were much more negative.  The Who were the worst case known to me.

And the 1965 hit song My Generation is the one that most offends me now.

At the time, my late mother got very offended by the line ‘Why don’t you all fade away’.  Young people with no gratitude for the older generation who had made an excellent world for them.  A world better than any generation had inherited before them.

And in many ways better than what generations after the Baby Boomers would get.  When they got older and more prosperous, a majority of Baby Boomers began seeing the taxes that had funded their comfortable upbringing as an intolerable burden.  And twisted logic was used to deny the obvious fact that Social Welfare had been a grand success.

This was helped by most of the left whinging about what was still imperfect.  Not admitting how much good had been done.

Good done by people who were neither Trotskyists nor Anarchists nor post-Stalin pro-Moscow Communists. Positive socialist successes, bad-mouthed by people with few positive achievements.  People whose rise coincides remarkably with the decline of socialist prestige and power.

I never forgot my mother’s words.  This and other things she said come out as quite as relevant as the published work of my father Raymond Williams.  Who indeed would almost certainly not have become the productive and successful man he was without my mother’s support.  Indeed, in the Forward to Culture and Society, he says she was “virtually the joint author”.  It is a pity he did not make her such: she was always hesitant about asserting herself.  I’d suppose that in today’s changed world, even much less deserving wives or other partners do get listed.

And re-checking details of My Generation, I learn that the song was sparked at a minor exercise of authority by the Queen Mother.  She allegedly had a Who member’s 1935 Packard hearse towed off a street in Belgravia because she was offended by the sight of it. [3]

Whatever her faults, the widowed wife of George 6th did show real concern for those less fortunate than herself.  Something the new wave of pop stars seldom bothered with.  And though a film called The King’s Speech may bend history a little, I think the full picture would be even better.

Reading and checking the full lyrics of My Generation, I was struck by a line I had forgotten: ‘I hope I die before I get old’.[4]  Not something they or their kind stuck to when they really did get old.  Keith Moon killed himself with drugs and alcohol in 1978: one of a string of premature deaths within a self-indulgent self-destructive culture.  But the others lasted into the 21st century, with two of them still alive.[5]


[1] https://www.quora.com/q/mrgwydionmwilliams/Will-British-Labour-Now-Reject-the-Young

[2] https://labouraffairsmagazine.com/editorials-from-labour-affairs/the-brexit-defeat/labours-vote-held-up-in-the-2019-defeat/

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/My_Generation

[4] https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/who/mygeneration.html

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_the_Who_band_members