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Young voters and Corbyn

The myth at the heart of the ‘Corbyn project’ is that it is a grassroots movement of enthusiastic young people. This group, so the theory goes, is disgusted by free markets and longs for industries to be nationalised and collectives of workers to seize control of the means of production. Books have even been written about how the ‘young’ have ‘created a new socialism.’ But if this is true, why does a poll today reveal that support for the newly-formed centrist Independent Group predominantly come from young people? Forty-seven per cent of 18-24 year olds approve of the creation of TIG, with just 14 per cent disapproving of it. This is strange behaviour from an age group we’re constantly told are supposed to be most rabidly in favour of Jeremy Corbyn. Listening to high-profile Corbynistas in their plentiful media appearances you would assume that the people most likely to back TIG are ageing Blairites and ‘centrists dads’. Far from it.

Young people are the least likely to oppose introducing competition into government services, and the least likely to favour the government pursuing equality of outcome. Perhaps this explains why so many young people approve of a group that has also won approval from the IEA and the ASI for its favourable view of austerity and Osborne cuts, opposition to renationalisation, anti-tax hike, and pro-tuition fee positions.

In reality any meeting of the hard left looks more like a retirement home than a university seminar, even in London, where more young people live. So Corbynism is not a movement led by a generational shift in the way we view the world, but one driven by the same few hundred thousand people in the country who have always leant towards the left. The only difference is that now they are better organised and able to seize the infrastructure of an old established party thanks to an ill thought-out £3 membership scheme. To put Labour’s support into perspective, the party’s total membership is less than half the number of people who voted Green in 2015.

Tim Harwood.

It may be true that some of the support for Momentum comes from the young, but the idea that most 20- and young 30-somethings have the hots for an ageing anti-semite, IRA supporter, Hamas chum and Marxist seems a tad far off the mark. The new and devastating book by Tom Bower is hardly going to make life easier. With their penchant for the goodies of modern capitalism (iPhones and all the rest of it), if not being in agreement with the global trade that makes this possible, it always struck me as more likely that a more genuinely liberal creed would appeal. The problem, as I see it, though, is that the breakaway MPs from Labour and the Tories who have formed the Independent Group are largely motivated by a desire to keep Britain inside the clutches of a federalising EU project marked by disdain for what voters want, and squaring that circle is going to be difficult.

Classical liberalism (ie, what I think liberalism actually is) has never been a majority taste among the young, in my experience, but it isn’t doing well at the moment, even though there are student groups and others doing what they can to counter statist nonsense and resist it in colleges, etc. That’s why I applaud the likes of the Atlas Network, Students for Liberty and the work of groups such as FREER, etc. Whatever might be the real support for Corbyn and his fellow socialist troglodytes, more needs to be done to spread better ideas when people are still at a formative stage in thinking about these things. I do what I can in speaking to meetings, and actually a practical step I’d urge those who scoff about such efforts to consider is mentoring students whom they know, giving them reading material and steering them towards ideas that their own lecturers might not be exposing them to. This doesn’t have to be done in a blunt fashion, either.

28 comments to Young voters and Corbyn

  • Tomsmith

    It matters not at all what variety of liberalism the young support.

    All liberalism, from the socialist kind to the free market classical type, leads to the dissolution and destruction of nations and peoples, for that is what it was designed to achieve.

    The rot goes back a long way. We are at the end of the line.

  • Alsadius

    It seems, from this side of the Atlantic, like it’s the Remain Party. If so, that’s the one issue where Corbyn is out of touch with the communist youth, and it’s one where I’m not surprised that they’re breaking ranks with him. When Brexit is a less important issue, they’ll drift back towards him.

  • pete

    Mr Corbyn was elected by the active Labour membership, and they are mostly unwordly, anti-business, middle aged, moderately affluent people who have done very well out of capitalism.

    They have the political maturity of students because they often work in the public sector where unions still hold sway as if it was the 1970s and nobody has to worry about real world things like competition or keeping customers.

  • Alsadius (March 2, 2019 at 4:14 pm), the TRIGs are indeed the Remoan party.

    Together these three big forces undermined confidence in the EU project as a modern force for progress that brings prosperity and solves problems and pushed it into about 30-35% of the population (younger, richer, better educated) which increasingly saw the EU in terms of ‘are you racist / supporter of Farage? (Dominic Cummings: how the Brexit referendum was won)

    As far as it could, Remain and the media sold EU support as a proxy for “I’m not a racist” and on Project Fear (after all, they could hardly sell it on its merits). As in other such cases, the young are more likely to fall for this virtue-signalling rubbish than the old.

    Another point is that many Britons, not just the young, feel that current party politics ill-reflects the country, but some naive young will be less quick than others to spot that the TRIGs, far from breaking the mould, represent its most establishment part.

  • It matters not at all what variety of liberalism the young support.

    Yeah it actually does matter, really a lot.

  • Flubber

    “Mr Corbyn was elected by the active Labour membership, and they are mostly unwordly, anti-business, middle aged, moderately affluent people who have done very well out of capitalism.

    They have the political maturity of students because they often work in the public sector where unions still hold sway as if it was the 1970s and nobody has to worry about real world things like competition or keeping customers.”

    I dunno. Whenever I see coverage of the hard core Corbynista types, they seem to be grungy, bitter, 50 year old losers.

  • pete

    Flubber, that’s what moderately affluent middle aged public sector workers look like.

  • John B

    @Tomsmith. ‘All liberalism, from the socialist kind to the free market classical type, leads to the dissolution and destruction of nations and peoples, for that is what it was designed to achieve.’

    Socialism is the antithesis of liberalism in its properly used sense.

    Liberalism was never ‘designed’, it is what emerged, was discovered, over time as the best way for peaceful, stable Human coexistence – don’t interfere in the lives of others and the choices they make that do not cause others physical harm.

  • Pat

    The young have always leant towards the new.
    Corbyn was new to them once.
    The Tigger’s are new now.
    Something else will be new in a year or two.

  • Tomsmith77

    The final destination of liberalism mark I (liberalism) and liberalism mark II (social democracy) are the same- destruction of nation and people, globalism, world governance structures, homogenisation.

    The difference is irrelevant from this point of view.

  • Tomsmith77

    Classical Liberalism was the first step in the destruction of the traditional structures supporting unique and different nations and people.

    Socialism is merely its corollary. Supporting step 1 but crying about step 2 is silly. Socialism follows naturally on from the classical liberal stage once the cascade of destruction is initiated.

  • The difference is irrelevant from this point of view.

    The huge difference is that socialism & other state based approaches (which are not ‘liberal’ in any meaningful sense at all) are revolutionary, simply clear-cutting what exists & replacing it with whatever the -ism is they advocate. Classical liberalism on the other hand is evolutionary, it is cosmopolitanising rather than prescriptive.

    But yes, you are right to the extent that people like me really don’t hold national difference per se as an objective good in and of itself. Cosmopolitans seek to extract the best and mix-and-match their culture.

  • Paul Marks

    Tomsmith – Prime Minister Gladstone was the leader of the Liberal Party for decades. Are you questioning his patriotism or his Christian faith?

    Do not be so quick to dismiss Liberalism as attack on upon the nation or Christianity.

    As for the basic “Old Whig” idea that people have the right (indeed the moral DUTY) to take up arms to defend their own liberties and the liberties of others – that is the foundation of such things as Magna Carta (1215) or even of Cicero.

    Properly understood Liberalism in the sense of Edmund Burke’s Old Whigs and Conservativism – are one-and-the-same.

    For example, is Cicero a Liberal or a Conservative? The correct answer is that he is BOTH. As are good monarchs such as Marcus Aurelius.

    No time is perfect and such evils as slavery most certainly existed – but the following was the sincere aim of the Emperor Marcus Aurelius Antoninus – which every good European monarch from that time to modern times regarded as a role model.

    “From my brother Severus [I learned to] love my kin, and to love truth and to love justice, and through him I learned to know Thrasea, Helvidius, Cato, Dion, Brutus; and from him I received the idea of a polity in which there same law for all, a polity administered with regard to equal rights and equal freedom of speech, and the idea of kingly government which respects most of all the freedom of the government”.

    The same law for all, equal rights, equal freedom of speech, most of all the freedom of the governed.

    Could Gladstone have said it better?

    People who reject CLASSICAL liberalism in the name of Western Civilisation urinate on the very civilisation they claim to hold dear.

  • pete

    John B says

    ‘Liberalism was never ‘designed’, it is what emerged, was discovered, over time as the best way for peaceful, stable Human coexistence – don’t interfere in the lives of others and the choices they make that do not cause others physical harm.’

    When did it emerge?

    When have we ever had peaceful, stable human coexistence?

    After millennia of human history marked by all sorts of violence and oppression we are still within living memory of genocide, and we ensure a fragile peace by threatening each other with nuclear weapons.

  • Paul Marks

    Jeremy Corbyn.

    The astonishing about this Cult (and all such Cults) is the flexibility of its supporters.

    Less than a year ago the Corbyn Cultists were saying that, unlike his Blairite enemies, Jeremy Corbyn was loyal to DEMOCRACY and British INDEPENDENCE from the Corporatists of the European Union.

    Now Comrade Jeremy and Comrade John McDonnell compete with Mrs May to see which can submit to the European Union the most.

    Comrade Jeremy and Comrade John denounce Mrs May for her (totally mythical) hard line stance against the European Union – and promise total surrender to it (showing total contempt for the democratic referendum for independence).

    And the Cultists?

    The Marxists wave the flag of the “Capitalist Corporate State” European Union – because that is what Comrade Jeremy is now doing.

    If he told them to nibble off their own legs – they would do that to.

    The post is true – the Cultists are not all young, they can be of any age.

    They are the same sort of people who followed every twist and turn of the policy of the Soviet Union – anti Germany “Good”, pro Germany “Good”, anti Germany again “Good”.

    Everything the Soviet Union did (even if it was the opposite of what it was doing five minutes ago) was good – and if it reversed policy, that was good as well.

    The Cultist view of Jeremy Corbyn is the same.

    Let us hope the young see the Corbyn led Labour Party as the vile thing it is.

  • Tomsmith77

    Getting rid of the European monarchy was fairly clear cutting.

    liberalism is simply the same thing as socialism. A different mask for a different time.

  • Tomsmith77

    Liberals and conservatives are not the same. Liberals are the breaking of the old order, the ruin of nation and people.

    Pointing to particular liberals frozen in history and examining how conservative they appear from the present day is a mere trick of perspective.

  • Tomsmith77

    It emerged when kings were beheaded.

  • Getting rid of the European monarchy was fairly clear cutting.

    There are still numerous European monarchies, and they gradually evolved into more benign institutions in most places, focal points for national unity that reign but don’t rule, rather than actual rule by some hereditary psychopath or dunderhead (elected dunderheads are easier to get rid of). Indeed it is a good example of the evolutionary approach that accompanies a more classical liberal order.

    Liberals are the breaking of the old order, the ruin of nation and people.

    Meaningless without more qualification & explanation.

  • Tomsmith77

    Democracy is a much more thorough control method than monarchy. When the king is ruling against the interests of the people, being influenced by others, then it is obvious. The solution is also obvious.

    Under democracy the illusion of mass consent and “the will of the people” makes rebellion psychologically almost impossible for the majority. And the element of control behind the power is similarly almost impossible to see.

    Liberalism made socialism possible- it opened the door by destroying the old European order. It was the first step in a process of directed change that started with the destruction of the European monarchies, continued with the subversion and hollowing out of the European religion, moved on to the transfer of European religious sentiment to other institutions, and led us to the modern world- a place where classical liberalism is a corny old joke, and an impossibility as the nations and people which gave rise to it, quickly die.

  • Liberalism made socialism possible

    You’d need to offer a lot of evidence for that theory. Socialisms’ roots can be found with Plato, not Adam Smith or Acton.

  • Paul Marks


    You have written several comments since I wrote mine – yet you give no sign you have read what I wrote.

    Was, for example, Cicero a “liberal” or a “conservative”? Properly understood he was BOTH – just as the Marcus Aurelius.

    As Aristotle pointed out – a monarch (as opposed to a tyrant) is UNDER the rule of law, NOT above it. Charles the Bald (more than a thousand years go – back in the 870s) understand that even a King of France had no LEGAL RIGHT to take land from one family and give it to another, or to interfere in Church doctrine, or to otherwise undermine the fundamental liberties of the people.

    The Great Charta of 1215 is one of MANY such documents – such statements of principle.

  • Paul Marks


    Yes indeed both tyranny and unjust invasion have always been dangers – that is all the more reason that they should be OPPOSED.

    Unless one is a pig, such as Thomas Hobbes, the fact that there are many tyrannies is NOT a reason to hold that tyranny is inevitable or that it should be supported.

    And, of course, the tyranny of the mob is just as bad as the tyranny of one man – Aristotle and the other Classical writers understood that.

    The unity of conservativism and classical liberalism to be found in such men as Edmund Burke is precisely in that they held that the basic principles of ordered liberty are above BOTH King and Mob.

    Such things as the American Bill of Rights were not written to protect fundamental liberties from the King (there was no King in America when it was written) they were written to protect fundamental liberties AGAINST “the people” in the sense of the majority mislead by agitators (what the Greeks called Demagogues and the Romans called Populari).

    The idea that the Western tradition is one of Absolute governments is false – it is the product of twisted and perverted minds, such as that of Thomas Hobbes or Jeremy Bentham (with his dreams of 13 Departments of State controlling all aspects of life).

    In reality such Tyrants as Louis XIV (the Sun King) were a rejection of the traditional limits on Royal Power – and of traditional institutions such as the Estates General. A harking back to the idea that the “the word of the Emperor is law” a total SUBVERSION of Western conservativism.

    Montesquieu was the true conservative TomSmith 77 – Louis XIV was a PROGRESSIVE.

    Cicero and Edmund Burke would have known what to do with rulers who believe themselves to be above the basic laws and who hold that the fundamental liberties of the people are nothing compared to their own will – one puts such wicked men (and their supporters) in their rightful place, which is most certainly NOT on the throne.

    It is the duty of the honourable man to oppose BOTH the tyrant and the mob – as soon as they become a threat to the fundamental (natural) principles of justice.

    “You sound like Colonel Blimp”.

    Better Colonel Blimp than the endless lies of Carl Schmitt (and co) – better to stand (even a “stuffy” way) for the principles of liberty that are the core of conservativism and classical liberalism (at root THE SAME THING – as we see with Marcus Aurelius), than stand with the apologists for Nazi tyranny who FALSLY claim to be reviving traditional European principles which they, in reality, subvert.

    As for the idea that the Old Whigs (the true Classical Liberals AND the true Conservatives) were friends of modern bureaucracy – nothing could be further from the truth.

    In reality the friends of modern bureaucracy, such as Jeremy Bentham, looked for inspiration to the existing bureaucracies of France, Spain and (especially) PRUSSIA.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes Perry – Plato needed no liberals to make his Collectivism possible.

    And the tyranny of the Emperor Diocletian (centuries later) was not created by liberalism.

    The modern age has nothing to teach about tyranny that men such as the Emperor Diocletian did not already know.

    Louis XIV and Colbert would fit into modern policy very well.

  • Paul Marks

    The same law for all, equal rights and equal freedom of speech, a government that respects above-all the liberty of the governed.

    Marcus Aurelius.

    Is the above “liberalism” or “conservativism” – properly understood it is BOTH.

    And the modern bureaucratic state respects NONE of it.

    Those who think that 19th century Classical Liberalism is represented by Jeremy Bentham and a handful of power-mad people around the “Westminister Review” are mistaken.

    These people did NOT support the principles of the Old Whigs – indeed it was Jeremy Bentham who said “rights [against the state] are nonsense – natural rights are nonsense on stilts”.

    The “Philosophical Radials” of the Westminister Review did not support the philosophy of Thomas Reid and the Scottish Common Sense school – they supported the “light of Hume” (as J.S. Mill put it) the denial of basic (fundamental) truths and of human personhood itself – see the “An Examination of the Philosophy of Mr John Stuart Mill” by James McCosh (1811 to 1894 once the best known philosopher in the United States).

    The Radicals did not support the ideas of Ralph Cudworth – they supported the ideas of Thomas Hobbes (it is the works of Thomas Hobbes, his conception of humans as NON beings, that they wanted to put into every library in Britain).

    There is nothing on the side of the Old Whigs in the writings of Thomas Flesh Robot Hobbes, David Euthanasia of the Constitution Hume, and Jeremy 13 Departments of State Bentham.

    We do not live in the world of the Old Whigs – of lawyers such as Sir John Holt (Chief Justice from 1689 to 1710 – the peak of Constitutional understanding on this island), or philosophical thinkers such as Ralph Cudworth or Thomas Reid.

    We live in an age where the doctrines of Thomas Hobbes, David Hume (apart from economics – where Mr Hume actually had some good things to say) and Jeremy Bentham dominate “intellectual” circles.

    Hobbes, Hume and Bentham do not represent the philosophy and politics that the Old Whigs supported – they represent the opposite. And it was to Hobbes, Hume and Bentham that the Westminister Review crowd of the early 19th century looked to – with their dreams of a Civil Service dominating life, and their denial of human personhood (their denial of the human soul).

    One can not get such things as the Bill of Rights (British or American) from the philosophy of Mr Jeremy Bentham and his associates.

  • EdMJ

    Interesting discussion Paul and TomSmith77.

    You might find the book reviews over at “The Worthy House” of interest, the writer is a prolific reader, and covers many of the topics discussed above.

    For a good starting point see maybe:

    and follow the rabbit hole from there.

  • Johnathan Pearce

    The logic of TomSmith’s view from what I gather is that he’s in favour of heirarchy, imposed by those supposedly born to rule. The flip side of such an order is a servant class, of people who “know their place” and accept it as just and inevitable.

    The condition of people under socialism is remarkably similar. I suggest TomSmith revisit his assumptions.

  • Nullius in Verba

    “The logic of TomSmith’s view from what I gather is that he’s in favour of heirarchy, imposed by those supposedly born to rule.”

    I think TomSmith isn’t calling for hierarchy, but revolution. His claim is that when aristocrats rule over us we can see clearly that they are opposed to our interests, and can overthrow them. But when the same rulers disguise themselves as democratic, we acquiesce to their domination quietly.

    Of course, the natural question to ask is who is going to run the show after the revolution? And the implicit expectation behind the proposal is that it will be TomSmith and his rebel revolutionaries, and everyone who agrees with them. That is to say, the main issue here is that it should be “Us” ruling, rather than “Them”.

    But presumably if TomSmith’s faction oppress the populace too far, there will be another revolution to overthrow him, and presumably TomSmith is OK with that.

    I guess it’s some form of kraterocracy or ochlocracy. Can’t say I agree with its assumptions, but it looks to me more anarchist than I think you’re thinking.