Calling the young selfish is the reason we voted
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Some journalists and public figures - Daniel Hannan, for instance - have been dismissing Labour’s election gains as young people voting for 'free stuff'. There are many things about my generation I dislike. We are glued to our smartphones, listen to terrible music, read trash (if we read at all), and are too lax with drugs. But we desire this ‘free stuff’ because we are the first generation in decades for whom the ‘stuff’ is not free. It is a myth that we don’t work hard; we have to. We cannot afford a house, struggle to afford our rent because of soaring prices and plummeting controls, and are often forced back home to live with our parents. According to the Office of National Statistics, in 2009 the total number of people on zero-hour contracts was about 240,000 and in decline; since 2010 - a conspicuous date - that number has increased by nearly 750,000. The majority of people dependent on them, 300,000, are aged 18-24. Under the Conservatives, our university fees have trebled (and are set to increase again), and our maintenance grants have retroactively become loans. Our parents neither expected nor experienced any of the above — not, at least, to the extent to which we have had to put up with it, and for which we are vilified. To a backdrop of cuts, homelessness, and food banks, free-market optimism looks myopic. One wonders if those dismissing the youth vote will never have to catch the 53 bus outside Woolwich Arsenal station on a travel card that could have purchased three weeks’ food; or use the NHS; or feel the council's £3 gas and electricity increase (a margin the average student must factor into a precarious monthly budget); or, lastly, feel the dread of not knowing one’s average monthly income.
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