Features

The gilded generation - why the young have never had it so good

The statistics speak for themselves. This is a gilded generation

10 May 2014

9:00 AM

10 May 2014

9:00 AM

No one likes being told they’ve never had it so good. When Lord Young of Graffham tried it three years ago, he was quickly forced out of his job as David Cameron’s enterprise adviser. And rightly so, you might think, for it was an affront both to the evidence before our eyes and to our most basic human instinct: that the past was golden and ahead of us lies only misery, penury, falling standards, overcrowding and the on-going destruction of our once green and pleasant land.

This was the (hugely popular) theme of Danny Boyle’s London Olympics opening ceremony: the pastoral idyll of frolicking shepherds violated by the sinister phallic eruptions of the Industrial Revolution’s dark satanic mills.

It’s also the inspiration of the Occupy movement, of economics bestsellers from The Spirit Level to Capital in the 21st Century, of David Willetts’s The Pinch: How The Baby Boomers Took Their Children’s Future, and of dozens of impassioned articles by journalists on both left and right lamenting the fate of today’s Doomed Youth.

As the author of several such whinges myself, I wasn’t particularly overjoyed to be asked to speak in a forthcoming Spectator debate in favour of the motion ‘Stop Whining, Young People: You’ve Never had It So Good’. In common with 54 per cent of respondents to a recent Ipsos MORI poll, I thought it was an absolute no-brainer that the kids of today are going to be worse off than their parents’ generation, for any number of obvious reasons.

But as I researched the topic, I found something astonishing. Most of those reasons were false. Strip away instinctive pessimism, miserablist gut feeling and media-indoctrinated false consciousness and what you discover is something amazing and counter-intuitive: on almost every available metric it turns out that the optimists have got it right. Today’s gilded generation is the most blessed that ever lived.

Here are a few facts to help ease you from your state of appalled disbelief.

Work: Over the last generation (ie, 25 years) average pay is up by 62 per cent in real terms — with more holiday entitlement (five weeks instead of four), fewer strikes, and higher employment rate for women. Today’s graduates are finding work at salaries that their parents could only dream about — unless they walked straight into a merchant bank. So we’re all more likely to be working and are better paid and consequently more independent.

Health: Life spans are going up. Between 1960 and 2010 a man’s average life expectancy increased by ten years; a woman’s by eight. Cancer survival rates have improved dramatically (yes, even under ‘our’ sclerotic NHS); HIV is no longer a death sentence; advances in nutrition and health mean that people are getting taller (the average height for British men having increased by four inches over the last century).

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Home: Yes, it’s true that the current QE-fuelled asset bubble is driving house prices unsustainably high, but otherwise news on the home front is good. Mortgages have never been cheaper, which more than compensates for higher prices. Outside London, property is more affordable now than a generation ago. Over 90 per cent of households now have central heating (in 1970 it was just a quarter), while fewer than three in 1,000 lack an indoor flushing loo (whereas as recently as 1961, one in seven houses only had outdoor loos; and one quarter didn’t have a bath or shower). We can all afford state-of-the-art TVs and computers too, prices having dropped by 68 per cent over the last nineyears for the former and 77 per cent for the latter.

Travel: We can go further for less and are much more likely to do so. Britons have three times more holidays abroad than they did in the 1980s, and not just on Ryanair and easyJet flights to Lanzarote and Palma, but to destinations which before would have been beyond the reach of all but a privileged few. In 1980, a fare to Johannesburg would have cost a fifth of average earnings. Today, it’s closer to a 50th.

Education: Of course it’s harder for graduates to find jobs — but that’s partly because there are so many more graduates. In the 1960s just one in 20 people went to university; now around half of all young people get to know the joys of freshers’ week, essay crises, late-night kebabs on vomit-spattered pavements and other formative further education experiences.

But just assuming for a moment that I haven’t made this stuff up — and I haven’t, honest — how come we’re constantly hearing otherwise? Well, one reason I’d suggest is that think pieces tend to be written by professional journalists. And if there’s one industry more likely than most to put a pessimistic complexion on things right now, it’s the crumbling fourth estate.

The main explanation, though, I believe, has more to do with our species’ extraordinary inbuilt mix of ingratitude and amnesia which characterises our response to the advances of the capitalist system. Peter Foster — in his excellent new book Why We Bite The Invisible Hand — offers the perfect analogy when he imagines Adam Smith, 18th-century author of The Wealth of Nations, returning today to his native Kirkcaldy.

He pictures Smith’s astonishment at the range of goods and services on offer — ‘from fast food or financial services to a cellphone or a “Unisex Tropical Tan”’ — and his amazement, coming from an era where oatmeal, white bread and potatoes were the staple, at encountering the Large Mega Mac Meal. But what would surprise Smith at least as much, Foster suggests, is the way all the locals at best took these wonders for granted, at worst felt bitter and resentful that more wasn’t being done to improve their lives.

Nowhere is this better exemplified in our own culture than in the way we have so casually absorbed the benefits of internet technology. When I was at university, for example, I had what was at the time considered a pretty enviable record collection of perhaps 50 to 100 albums. My 15-year-old son, however, has access to a selection so vast — perhaps 20 million songs — that back in the 1980s it would have beggared the imagination even of a millionaire, audiophile obsessive collector like Tim Rice.

The reason for this is not that my son’s dad is richer than my dad (au contraire) but simply because of a mobile phone app called Spotify, which anyone can now own, whether they live on Gazillionaire’s Row or whether they’re White Dee from Benefits Street, because the basic version is free.

Free, as so many things are these days — from sophisticated computer games (the kind that you would have paid a small fortune for in the early days of Xbox and would have been unthinkable in the days of Atari) to novels (certainly, all the classics) to specialist magazines to apps that make it easier for you to find a sexual partner (Tinder, Grindr) to funny little devices you never knew you needed but now find indispensible like Shazam, the one which enables you to identify unfamiliar pieces of music.

This widespread outbreak of ‘freeness’ (though, of course, it’s not really free: invariably you’re being exploited some other way, either through advertising or the valuable information you’ve given about yourself) is one of the great overlooked phenomena of modern economics. That’s because, by its nature, it’s not a measured — or indeed measurable — part of GDP.

Yet it’s in this invisible area that by far the most dramatic lifestyle improvements have occurred during the past decades. So much so as to make a nonsense of what we hear from clergymen, Labour politicians and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation about the ongoing existence of ‘poverty’ in Britain.

Poverty? Well yes, it’s always going to exist if you define it in relative terms — even if we reach the stage where the haves ride around in Lamborghinis and the have-nots must make do with Porsches. But not, surely, in absolute terms. Not when in Britain we’re already pretty much at the stage where no one is denied the opportunity to enjoy their leisure time with access to culture and entertainment only marginally less sophisticated than that available to Bill Gates.

Or, as Matt Ridley put it in The Rational Optimist, ‘The average British working man in 1957, when Harold Macmillan told him he had “never had it so good”, was earning less in real terms than his modern equivalent could now get in state benefit if unemployed with three children.’ Not just that, but with his television, telephone, car and modern healthcare, that man has access to creature comforts which not even the richest of the 19th-century super-rich such as Cornelius Vanderbilt could ever have hoped to enjoy in their lifetimes.

Of course, I can well understand why so many of us might be predisposed to overlook these realities. First, as Thomas Macaulay rather sourly noted in his History of England (1849), we seem often to be drawn to idealise the past at the expense of the present: ‘It is now the fashion to place the golden age of England in times when noblemen were destitute of comforts, the want of which would be intolerable to a modern footman, when farmers and shopkeepers dieted on loaves the very sight of which would raise a riot in a modern workhouse, when men died faster in the purest country air than they now die on the coast of Guiana. We too shall be outstripped and in our turn envied…’

And secondly, we have the evidence of our own eyes that the world doesn’t always improve. I think, for example, of those sleepy Turkish fishing villages I chilled out in one university summer vacation, which my children’s generation, and every one hereafter, will only get to experience as overdeveloped touristic hell holes virtually indistinguishable from the ones that ruined Spain in the 1970s. That Mediterranean coastline: we’re never going to get it back.

But in broader terms, there’s no getting away from the counter-intuitive truth: no matter which metric you choose — health, longevity, education, earnings and spending power — life continues to get better for more of us than at any time in history. Face it kids, you’ve never had it so good. Now shut up and start showing some gratitude.

James Delingpole will present his case at The Spectator’s generational debate at the British Museum on 17 June: call 020 7961 0044 or see spectator.co.uk/events. He also appears on this week’s ‘View from 22’.


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Show comments
  • Bonkim

    But will be useless in facing adversity when it hits them. their parents’ generation could live on less.

  • cartimandua

    Facing unemployment, carrying vast debt, and unable to even dream of getting a secure home to live in.
    Yuh great.

    • LarryH77

      Come on, the falling price of non-essential gadgets is ample compensation for the tripling of house prices in 20 years.

      • Terry Field

        Only trippling in your neck of the woods. I did better.
        Location location location.

        • SALLYFARRAR

          Lucky you.

          I just lost 100K on a home sale.

          • Terry Field

            I was only joking! I live overseas and hold no property investments in Britain. Sorry you had a bad time selling – Britain seems a bit of a casino, with human happiness and health the casualties for the majority.

          • Jambo25

            Its still possible to buy a decent 2 bedroomed flat in Edinburgh for about 150 K. Prices haven’t gone way up, as in some other areas but they haven’t tanked either.

    • Terry Field

      Ha ha- you would have loved living standard forty years ago, you blinkered prat.

      • GraveDave

        I was around in 1973. What was up with the living standards?

        • Jambo25

          Well, my wife and I: both graduates from a very good university, prior to modern grade inflation reducing degree standards to meaninglessness, got married that year and embarked on married life in a state of fairly severe poverty. No foreign holidays, no cars, no new furniture, no expensive nights out, no shiny techy things.

          • GraveDave

            I agree it was hard. But the baby boomers who got it right back then are now reaping the rewards. It’s doubtful the present generations will within the next forty years .
            What do you think?

          • Jambo25

            Depends who they and their parents are. When my ma died I got left 5 grand which was about enough to give her “a good send off” as we say up here. When my wife and I pop our clogs our boy gets a whack of money and it will be a fair whack. He’s also getting a great deal of help now.
            There’s a regional/national effect here as well. I suspect that most of the whines are coming from London and the South East where property prices are truly scandalous. My boy is tied in to life in the London area and despite impressive earnings on paper the price of property and some other necessities such as transport mean he is not doing nearly as well as his university friends who stayed in Edinburgh or moved to anywhere outside of London and the South East.

          • GraveDave

            I know. I live in London.

          • Tom M

            I suspect anybody in any generation who “gets it right” will reap the rewards.
            I’m one of the baby boomers (not rich by any yardstick but reasonably happy with where I am) and when I infrequently return to the mining area I grew up in I can still find acquaintances of my youth still living in council houses on benefits and complaining about, well, everybody as to why they aren’t better off.

          • GraveDave

            That’s right. We largely have to make our own way.

          • Terry Field

            Human vegetables. A cabbage has more go than that,

          • Terry Field

            The ones who got it right emigrated from the bloody nightmare.

          • Jambo25

            Sorry but I didn’t buy a house in London or the more expensive parts of the South East 40 years ago. I simply worked, saved and did quite well. Part of this meant living frugally.

          • Terry Field

            Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

          • Terry Field

            Indeed, there are more bloody restaurants pandering to the air-headed idiots in Bury St Edmunds than there were in London in those days.

          • Jambo25

            Its not just the South East though. I was in Manchester last weekend and you couldn’t get moving in Oxford Road, Rushholme and bits of Didsbury at or past midnight. It wasn’t ‘Boomers’ who were out drinking and clubbing but badly greated ‘err yoof’.

          • Terry Field

            Relax.
            It wont last.
            NOAA and NASA have rightly identified global civilisation is at the end of the point of resource over-consumption. The little tykes will soon face global climate disaster, permanent rationing, foodstuffs no longer shipped to the UK as the producers starve themselves, and the over fed-, over-egoed, under-aware little horrors will get a lot thinner – there won’t be an obese Brit on the island – they will either have slimmed down, or fricasseed wth glazed onions and served on a bed of rocket!

          • Dodgy Geezer

            Er… no.

          • Terry Field

            Er…… yes yes yes.

          • Dodgy Geezer

            I’m still waiting to run out of oil, like I was told in 1960, or be frozen, like I was told in 1974…

          • SALLYFARRAR

            And no debt.

          • Jambo25

            Speak for yourself Ma’am. My son and all our friends’ children will be left substantial amounts and are being generously helped by their parents now. My generation was born at the end of wartime rationing and austerity. We had far lower living standards than the current 20 something generation.

          • SALLYFARRAR

            You factoring in the death tax?

          • Jambo25

            Unless you are worthy an awful lot of money death duties shouldn’t concern you. Even if you are then you have to be an idiot to leave your legatees subject to it.

          • SALLYFARRAR

            We’ve been it hard by it.

          • Jambo25

            I’m talking about the situation over here.

        • manonthebus

          1974 to 1975 saw inflation at around 25%, mainly caused by the oil embargo. Most people were not doing very well in the mid to late ’70s. Life was also made harder by militant trade unions. And don’t even mention the British car industry with their rust heaps!

          • GraveDave

            The four day week, power cuts, rubbish in the streets. Now you’ve got the sixty to eighty hour week, electricity costing more than food, and in certain areas it doesn’t matter how often the dust carts and sweepers come. But never mind we’ve got all this fantastic choice of ethnic food and television, the I phone, laptops, X box, the internet…
            I suppose it depends really on your quality of life and how you see it.
            .

          • manonthebus

            Yes, I agree about the TV; it’s dire isn’t it? Well I don’t have an iPhone because I rarely talk on the mobile, but I realise I am in a very small minority.

          • SALLYFARRAR

            Nor do I but I am under pressure.

          • Terry Field

            And Woy, from all accounts, being wodgered. Squalid bugger

          • Jambo25

            Get out of London and the South East.

          • SALLYFARRAR

            Good ol bread and circuses. Ooops, I mean delivered pizza and sports tv.

            And reality tv.

            And computer games.

            Governments love nothing more than an illiterate, under educated and, even better, an obese populace (Check out obama’s base).

            Sooo easy to manipulate and control.

          • John Smith

            After the Winter of Discontent we almost emigrated But for some unexplained reason things began to improve after 1979. A bit like 2010 . .

          • Jambo25

            Who did it improve for in 79? Where I lived the place turned into an economic desert for about 10 or more years.

          • SALLYFARRAR

            Perhaps the Reagan Effect wafted east and across the Pond?

          • Terry Field

            Allegro
            Ma non tropo!

        • Terry Field

          People in the UK emigrated to East Germany to improve their living standards!
          There was a planned military coup in the UK that would have been activated had the Blessed Margaret not won her first election.
          It was a collapsed nightmare in the UK. Only a commie who loved the colour brown and hated pleasure would have liked it. Maybe you are he.

          • Jambo25

            The East German story is a lefty urban myth which I saw in the Guardian. It was garbage then and its garbage now. I travelled to East Germany on a few occasions during the 70s and 80s. It was a crap hole with much lower living standards than the UK.

          • Terry Field

            Oh yes they did – I knew someone who went. I am no bloody leftie so I did not get that from absurd Grauniad.
            As for the level of relative crapholery, I would only say

            Slough
            Salford
            Southall
            Scunthorpe

            and that is just the ‘s’s.

            You loose.

          • Jambo25

            Not really. Staying on the letter S you could put up Schwerin. Now a rather lovely town. The Schloss is spectacular. Then a rather lovely town but turned into a crap hole by the old DDR authorities. Nearby Wismar was as bad. Towns like these are now tourist attractions but back in the 70s and 80s were dumps in comparison to nearby towns, like Lubeck, in the BRD. You could drive through urban and rural areas in the old DDR where you could see lines of unrepaired bullet holes (Circa 1945) still in the walls. The occasional old T34 or Mark IV in a field etc. About the only things worth buying, in the old DDR, where ice-cream, steak and the excellent beer.

          • Terry Field

            I fancy a T34; can you source one for me. There’s a beer in it for you!
            Not many went there in those days; who were you spying for old Honecker?
            Was he ok as a boss?

          • Jambo25

            Last one I saw was in a field, at the side of a road between Erfurt and Weimar, quietly rusting away. I was just traipsing about Germany. I’ve been doing it, on and off, since the 1960s.

          • Terry Field

            One would decorate the centre of my potager. I could dangle marrows and cucumbers from the gun barrel.
            You clearly know Germany; do you like it?
            I used to love going there about forty years ago, but the recollection of the slaughters just takes the edge off it – I get enthusiastic about a trip, and then I get depressed about the horror of times past. I met so many lives there that had been ruined by the ghosts of suffering, I give up and go somewhere else. My loss I am sure. It just seems such a tragic place.

          • Jambo25

            Its this ‘light and darkness’ in German history that I find interesting. Weimar is a case in point. In the centre of town there are sites associated with Goethe, Schiller and the Bachs. In a few yards there is also Hotel Elefant which was Hitler’s favourite hotel and restaurant. A few miles away from the town is the site of the old Buchenwald KZ Lager. One of my uncles was interned there by both the Nazis and the Russians. You can suddenly come across this weird mix when you least expect it. About a decade or so ago I was in the old Bavarian town of Straubing walking down towards the Danube when I passed a plaque on an old town gate which pointed towards the

          • Terry Field

            Thanks; I will overcome my melancholy and get over there to see a little of it. DO the customs posts impound T34s if one tries to drive them back?

          • Jambo25

            Only if you have too many bottles of Asbach Brandy in your luggage.

      • mikewaller

        What a stupidly offensive response! Don’t you know about the theory of relative deprivation as in: At the psychological level, someone in a two car society with only one car feels as deprived as does a person with only one bowel of rice in a two bowl society? Obviously things change when the most basic needs are not being met, but in general terms relative wealth is major factor in the determination of contentment. I am now 70 and when I entered the graduate job market, relatively good jobs were easily available and they carried salaries and pensions that made home ownership and a comfortable retirement reasonable assumptions. Now the poor sods have three mountains to climb: paying retrospectively for their educations, getting a foothold on the housing ladder, the first rung of which is very, very high; and building a pension is a world in which the final salary schemes have largely disappeared.

        I infer from JD’s piece that he knows he drew the short straw and is simply making the best of a very hard case. If not, I am even more worried about him than usual. Of course things so massively improved during the 20th Century that most folk born in subsequent years were very materially better off, save only for war casualties and those most devastated by the great depression. But the issue here is the likely future trajectory. For baby- boomers in particular it was onward and upward; except for those with outstanding talents, for the present young I fear it will be onward and downward as the centre of economic active shifts inexorably Eastward.

        • Terry Field

          Thanks for the reply – yes I was a bit ‘offensive’ but the saccharine response required by convention seems a bit bogus and unreal.
          The misery of relative poverty is severe, and that is getting worse for many millions. It is a price of the globalising vitality of capitalism, but one displaced Brit or Euro or Yank feeling grim is compensated for by 50 indo gangetic and other Asian thin-as-a-stick ex-rural peasants feeling GREAT. That is how it is.
          I doubt democratic structures in the west will survive the destruction of middle class ‘jobs’ by the twin actions of super-clever computer programmes and global supply sources. It is my view European democracy came as a handmaiden to mass employment ad the economic construction of an educated economically active and asset-enriched middle class, and not the other way about. Take the middle class away, democracy evaporates.
          The misery and poverty yet to come is worse by far than that visited on the manufacturers from the 60s to the 2000s.
          Does this concern us? should it?
          If atheists are correct, and there are no absolute moral values, then as long as one is ok, the other chaps economic and social destruction is of no concern, except where it reduces our prospects for survival and increases our chances of being cut down by the lumpen proletariat carrying their degree certificates from the ex-polytechnics.

          • mikewaller

            Thanks for your thoughtful response. My take on the core issue you raise is that there most certainly will be a titanic struggle between globalisation and democracy but I am not convinced that the former will win. My guess is that Western politicians will have to veer strongly towards protectionism if they are to secure a popular mandate. In view of this, the rise of UKIP is a mark of national insanity. One thing is absolutely certain: if big groupings form trade blocks, they will all happily shaft outliers.

          • Terry Field

            Why the hell the British ‘leaders’ (ha bloody ha) think open free trade is a good idea is an increasing mystery. Shanghai alone educates more and better than the whole of the UK. We are going to be a ‘knowledge’ economy!!! Malthus is just getting into gear.
            THEN there is climate catastrophe. And the price of plain chocolate digestives is rising uncomfortably.

          • Terry Field

            Indeed; prostituting the place of the citizen to stay in a Bloc may well be the choice.
            But it won’t save us ( or them!)
            All part of the collapse not far off, based on all available metrics and projections.

    • http://Thegrouse.tumblr.com The Grouse

      I am the One in ten a number on a list. I am the one in ten even though I don’t exist. This town is coming like a ghost town. Yep you’ve got it uniquely tough these days. There there

  • Raw England

    WHAT?

    It’s YOUR generation that had it the best. You lived in the original White Britain, meaning you had opportunity, safety, pride, security, community, jobs, houses and very low prices.

    Also, incidentally, its your generation that allowed the cancer of immigration and multiculturalism to begin, paving the way for HELL for my generation.

    Also, tell that to the millions of White working class kids suffering, right now, in misery and poverty; their lives and future stolen.

    • Shorne

      We know you will spout your xenophobic (the mildest word I can use) ravings regardless of the content of the article (I still remember you assertion that Scotland had ‘zero immigration and multiculturalism’) so yet again a few facts. Mr. Delingpole was born in 1965 so his 20’s fell in the late 1980s and early 1990s when Britain was well established as a multicultural society.
      Youth unemployment is now less than one million and still falling.
      Right off you go…

      • Raw England

        Meaningless and completely hollow comment.

        • Shorne

          As ever you and your kind dismiss plain simple facts as ‘meaningless.’
          I’ve just had a thought you could be some left wing comedian or commentator out to discredit the forces of reaction by posting this sort of stuff(?)

      • Keith D

        Oh dear. The ravages of mass immigration from 97 fuelled multiculturalism, although the word in itself is a misnomer, have had exactly the effect that RE describes.

        No-one objects to migrants contributing to our society economically and culturally, well not many at least, but we dont have that do we?
        We have parallel cultures that will eventually clash, as they have throughout history. Oil and water dont mix.

        Tell me, am I xenophobic to wonder how on earth its good for me or my family to have gangs of non English speaking Africans hanging outside the bookie all day? Living in social housing while the rest of us leave overcrowded houses for work daily ?

        Enjoy your bubble, it wont last.

        • Shorne

          I never said that all immigration was good. I used to work in a prison and I could often guess what offence some prisoners were in for by where they were from. The largest immigrant group were from quite close to home. At the same time I worked with numerous men and women of foreign origins doing difficult and dangerous jobs for the common good. Often they would be subjected to racial abuse from British criminals who seemed to think they were superior regardless of what they had done.
          What I do object to is the barely concealed racism that overshadows the argument. Phrases like ‘White Britain’, which never existed, and ‘bongo bongo dwellers’ which got someone thrown out of UKIP. Even worse in my view is a complete disregarding of the facts.
          I sympathise with you regarding the crowd outside your local bookies. We had a similar problem with a crowd of white British youths. But I know what I see out of my window is not the whole country. The immigrant population of the UK is only 13% – and that’s from the Daily Mail

          • Keith D

            I thank you for your considered reply and I can attest to also having worked with many people from far flung fields doing exceptional jobs. Personally I find racism appalling, particularly when directed at powerless individuals.

            I live in a “diverse” area where the vast majority of incomers hail from Somalia and Pakistan. The trouble is the make up and distribution of the 13%. A figure by the way that of course doesn’t include second generation families who whilst born here, still cling to the values of the old country. But I digress, that 13% is to be found concentrated in ghettoes, some of which are virtual no go areas for indigenous Brits.

            I find this appalling and can only see it heading one way, particularly as one well documented religious group has no desire to join us in an enlightened society.

            As a grandfather I worry for my family’s future in this country.

          • Shorne

            Fair enough as one grandfather to another but I would point out that the 2011 census revealed that 80.5% of the population were white British and 71.7% described themselves as Christian so British ‘natives’ are far from being a minority.

        • Kennybhoy

          “The ravages of mass immigration from 97…”

          The real rot goes way further back…

      • Terry Field

        Oh diddy widdums somesy onesy doent likesy the browny folksies – booyhooyhooy

        • Shorne

          Yet again we bow before the mature, considered wisdom of the Right.

          • Terry Field

            Foolish person; I was being silly. Stop being so precious.

      • Terry Field

        ”Britain was well established as a multicultural society.”

        Is it??
        It is morphing back to a monoculture, as immigration is strangled except from white Christian Europe.
        Wake up and smell the coffee.

        • Shorne

          Evidence please

          • Terry Field

            That is easy; policy is severely choking off immigration from the old Empire, the point system gives preference to first world educated types who share the core values of the indigenous, and the n borders to EUrope are open, which is full of Chrisitan culture, and folk who think more like the Brits and who integrate in a single generation. The entire country has rejected the anarchy of maintained cultural differences between immigrant groups.
            Inter-marriage will soften the boundaries and, over the centuries, pretty much remove them . It will, in future, be a different country, but it will be, very largely, integrated.
            The catastrophe of climate change and vast human migration will force the surviving regions to build mile high walls against immigration; the populations in the destination countries will watch the rest die by the billion, but they will swallow their ‘humanity’ and concentrate on surviving ‘at home’
            This latter is nasty, but quite inevitable.
            Some lefties will not like this, deny it is the future, and rail against non-existent ‘racism’, but they are a fast disappearing group.

    • Terry Field

      Our parents generation was the one who let the bongo bongo dwellers in, feeling absurdly guilt about empire – even though it civilised the subject peoples, (suttee, thuggee, spitting in puble, credit, industry, work and money etc etc, law, good governance, stuff like that) that apparently was not enough. Blame them, not us. in particular blame my mother-in-law.

    • Fergus Pickering

      Do you now I’ve had it up to here with white working class kids. It’s boys we are talking about. They are ignorant, lazy, violent and generally good-for-nothing. I have nothing in common with them except whiteness and being male. They were the same when I was young. They never change.

      • alexander

        Great contribution of class bigotry to add to the racism well done!

        • Fergus Pickering

          I do my best to please. You know in your heart it makes sense. British sentimentality about the working class is much to be deprecated..

          • alexander

            Again, an outstanding contribution to this site and to UK society in general. Its good to know that there’s people out there who are making a real contribution y’know? and coming to this site and seeing your post has reaffirmed that to me.

          • Fergus Pickering

            I always aim to contribute to the education of the ignorant.

          • Terry Field

            Sock it to ’em Fergus old cocker!

          • Fergus Pickering

            It’s like shooting ducks that are already dead.

          • alexander

            Yes I agree you are un-educated and ignorant

      • Jambo25

        They weren’t the same when I was young. The people who won scholarships to Edinburgh’s public schools (I was one of them.) or poured out of peaceful, well-ordered housing estates to senior secondaries (grammar schools), in the moening, were overwhelmingly white, working class boys. Something happened.

        • Fergus Pickering

          Yeah. What did?

          • Jambo25

            Possibly the destruction of work during the 1980s my have had something to do with it.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Naw, that’s boring. The truth is you were embracing middle-class values and now you are indeed middle-class. But today all the lefties act working class, that is they sit on their arses all day eating fast food and watching daytime television.

          • Jambo25

            In the 50s and 60s everybody had jobs. Men, in particular, derived discipline and responsibility from work and the need to work. Then some very clever people, in the 80s and 90s, decided that full employment should no longer be a prime aim of government policy and that “Unemployment was a price worth paying.”. The result was the gradual detachment of a workless, benefits funded section of the population from the rest of us and the gradual coarsening of our society. There are other reasons for what happened but the retreat from full employment was the main one.

          • Fergus Pickering

            And in the 50s and 60s most middle class women with children didn’t work. Now they do. And many low level labouring jobs for the uneducated and stupid male existed. Humping sacks and the like.

          • Jambo25

            Women moving into the work place also, clearly, had some effect.

  • ohforheavensake

    Oh, James…. you’re a very silly man.

  • Del Boy

    What a plonker.

  • Joninashby

    “Mortgages have never been cheaper, which more than compensates for higher prices.” – er, I suggest it doesn’t. I bought a decent 3-bed house aged 26 with a deposit of just 2 months (average at the time) income. Now you need deposits of around 18 months’ average income, meaning first-time buyers can rarely afford homes before their late 30s. They also have to put a lot more into pensions than ever before to support their increased longevity and lower state entitlements, and or look forward to selling their homes to pay for care in old age.

  • you_kid

    Yet again James Denialingpole does not disappoint.
    He denies yet again that whilst wealth and standards might be rising, they are only rising for some. He denies and ignores completely the fact that in a debt-fuelled and asset-dependent economy like ours, standing up for an equality of opportunity is not the same as preaching the equality of outcome.
    Britain is heading for an *intergenerational conflict* it has never experienced before: those who are the have-nots find themselves increasingly excluded from education, the housing market, participation in the political discourse as a whole. Decisions in our society are solely made by a Magna Carta elite. Never was that more obvious than today.

  • Joseph

    Wow. James, you are aware that average salaries are totally meaningless
    when you fail to compare them to average prices right? Shockingly bad
    journalism… ask any ‘young person’ of today whether they’d prefer
    realistically priced housing or a new iPhone and I think we all know the
    answer you’d get. By the way, I’m not a ‘socialist,’ if we wanted to
    solve the housing problem the BoE could just return rates back to normal
    levels and clear the the market of all the massively leveraged morons
    who purchased houses they thought would increase in value forever and
    could never afford in the first place… but we can’t do that can we?

    • Jambo25

      When I bought my first house the interest rate rose to 14.5%. Repayment took my entire salary for a number of years. My wife made my shirts from material we bought on visits to Leicester market. We made virtually all our own preserves and pickles, much of our bread etc. Outside of the obscene London and south east housing market, housing isn’t that expensive. Even ‘expensive’ Edinburgh isn’t that expensive.

      • Joseph

        If repayment of your mortgage took your entire salary for a number of years how did you manage to live, get to work, eat etc? Sorry Jambo, but sounds like the standard ‘back in my day’ anecdotal rubbish you guys are best known for. Did your deposit set you back several years of your annual salary as well? Also, you understand why house prices outside of London and the South East are reasonable right? It has something to do with the lack of employment opportunities.

        • Jambo25

          After we bought our first house we lived on my wife’s salary for 5 years until my salary rose to a point where we could afford to have a child. At that point she gave up full time work and worked part time until my son reached secondary school age. Incidentally, when I bought my first house there was a mortgage famine. You had to queue up to get a mortgage and only got one if you met stringent building society rules.
          You may not like it but the kind of living standard expected by a newly married couple of graduates, when my wife and I married, was much lower than would be expected today.
          I understand entirely the link between job markets and housing demand. May I point out to you, however, that jobs exist outside of London. You can get a very nice 1 or 2 bedroomed flat (The popular, high ceilinged Edwardian ones.), in Edinburgh, for under 150 K and the unemployment rate in Edinburgh is lower than London’s. If, of course, you hold out for ‘The Job’ which can only be had in London and the South East, then expect to pay the property price.

          • Terry Field

            Sounds good to me! Wahay the Scots!!!!!

          • Jambo25

            And exactly he same would be true of numerous of the bigger English cities.

      • Terry Field

        I make my own preserves and pickles even to this day. It is a real pleasure.
        I liked Wilfred Pickles as well; a funny fellow. Unlike the geeky crets who pass for ‘comics’ in these dark times.

        • Jambo25

          “What’s in the kitty,Mabel?”

          • Terry Field

            Give him the money, Barney!

  • Terry Field

    IT shows. They are arrogant, selfish, disinterested in ideals and life other than their own. And they resent the existence of the older generations. But cheer up; they will get the full effect of global climate disaster; and they sure deserve it.

    • Del Boy

      You sad old git.

      • Terry Field

        Oh diddums.
        Did I fAIl to say something ever son sweet about the lovely little darlings? DID I actually say what VAST numbers of us ACTUALLY THINK ABOUT THE LITTLE BUMS, with their bloody lattes, their restaurant culture, their absurd puritanism, their grotesque binge-drinking, and their receding chins.

        • Del Boy

          ‘Restaurant culture’?

          Please do elaborate. After all, these are usually run by successful, wealthy older people. Also, most of the people (and to be fair, I have known a lot of people) who enjoy restaurant culture are not ‘yoofs’ and usually have coin.

        • Del Boy

          Also: a binge-drinking puritan, that’s certainly a new one.

  • Col. Leopold Swindle

    Increasing average incomes are a reflection of the rising passive income of older generations. To understand the earnings of younger people, try looking at median wages instead.

  • Luke Thomas

    It’s less about whether things are better now than they were – the trend has almost universally been upwards – but whether things are as good as they could be.

    THAT is why voices are, and should be raised.

  • Craig Campbell

    This seems like that type of “article” designed to gain attention of any sort, really, as long as it gains attention, raising the writer’s profile. But yes, how dare those Spaniards and Turks turn their towns into tourist havens, when your little boy needs to experience them in their unspoiled state, like Daddy did.

  • MrRich

    Im probably not an a typical student. Though am keen to share with you the sentiment of a significant majority of the “privileged”. I go to the university that has highest avg grad salary in the UK. And will be working this summer for the #1 most desired company to work for by students and adult folk, in the world. Google it ;). But the crazy thing is I don’t feel incredibly satisfied or happy. I feel knackered. I come from a lower middle class home so have already exceeded expectations. Ie no pressures there. Though all this fancy tech ‘stuff’ is cool. What I’ve found keeps me feeling motivated is having decent relationships. done its fair share of innovating. A lot of people around me feel the same.

    • Del Boy

      You sound like a deluded moron.

  • Katie

    Terrific. Meanwhile back in the real world, I obtained a good degree from a reputable university getting myself in about £15,000 worth of debt. I’m still working for minimum wage (for various reasons) and after paying my rent and bills this month I have two pounds left to live on for the next month. Quite literally 2 quid. Please tell me more about how I have it so good.

    My parents bought a 4 bed detached for £35,000. I cannot envision ever being able to buy a house unless I win the lottery or marry a millionaire. The idea of saving for a pension is also ludicrous, maybe when I hit my forties….

  • random fella

    And this is one of the downsides of the internet, every idiot has access to publish nonsense.

    How about the 1.7% unemployed in the 1960’s compared to the 7-8% of the total pop or 19% of young adults during 2013.

    Or should I remind you of the FREE education older generations were fortunate enough to get.

    Perhaps how ridiculously high living costs are right now and as a result how many are forced to stay living with their parents well into adult life.

    You’re dillusional if you actually believe “Today’s graduates are finding work at salaries that their parents could only dream about”. Tell that to those with into the hundreds of rejections, doing unpaid/low paying internships or on short/zero hour contracts.

  • AndrewRM

    These comments must surely be distorted by averages, the South East Skew and misleading assumptions? In other words:

    -Average pay is up 62% but how much of this is due to City Boys and overpaid executives incentivised on short term measures to inflate earnings and extract a quick buck? This group must add a lead weight on the ‘wealthy’ end of the scale.

    -We’re given more holidays than ever before, but how many employees in Britain take them up in their entirety? How many, especially in a downturn (or 0.8% GDP growth), are left unclaimed?

    -QE benefits asset owners and the wealthy. Borrowing costs may be cheaper but asset prices have been pushed further out of reach. Even with cheap mortgages and help to buy schemes, the housing affordability enjoyed by our parents’ generation is a long way off.

    -If you classed the 1980s’ technical college and apprenticeship leavers as graduates, how differently would the unemployment figures stack up relative to today’s? Yes, it’s extremely difficult for graduates to find work but the posts, or qualification levels, have moved some way over the decades.

    -So we’re given free media, paid for through commercial breaks, no different from those on ITV and Channel 4 shown today or three decades ago. Spotify, your own website and others’ are no different. You still have to buy what you really want.

    In ten years’ time, thanks to a generation of antibiotics over-prescription, the cost of medicine could rise ever higher. Cheaper (less expensive) medical products are nice for now.

    At least we can escape on a cheap and efficiently run airline; hardly a clean or enjoyable way to travel, but progress!?

  • formonitoring

    This is the admirable self-deluding complacency which has put conservatives out of touch with the electorate: add up income figures devoid of cost and context, ignore outgoings, point at shiny gadgets, and ignore intangibles – such as a sense of precariousness arising from zero hours contracts, which count as ’employed’.
    Thanks to that, four years after gordon brown, the least inspiring labour team ever is on track to make david cameron a one-term embarrassment.
    keep it up folks!

  • Cool Ranch, Texas

    Those still preaching from collectivism’s altar have abandoned Marxism for the Fabian strategy of small steps toward centralized control.

  • Dodgy Geezer

    ..life continues to get better for more of us than at any time in history..

    Er.. I’m sure you know the name of the great business economist who first proposed this hypothesis, then went on to prove that it applied to all periods of history by copious research, and finally enunciated it as a full blown theory – Cornucopia Theory, in the 1960s.

    So how come there is no mention anywhere in the piece of Professor Julian Simon?

  • SALLYFARRAR

    Not here in the U.S.—this generation gets to inherit the $17 trillion federal debt that obama has built up after calling GWB’s $9 trillion debt “unpatriotic” during his 2008 campaign for president. But that, of course, was before we knew Obama was a liar and a charleton. From 1781 until 2008, the federal debt in this country never exceeded about nine trillion. Within a few shorts years, the Marxist, America hating, Obama has nearly doubled it. How else to buy votes and pay for trinkets like the Obamaphone?
    The Twentysomethings will never, never, never get to retire as their meager earnings will be taxed until the end of eternity because of the bills and debt their messiah, the one they sold their souls for, built up while they were mere striplings.

    • Jambo25

      Actually, national debt levels in the UK were at or higher than present levels until the 70s. We had a couple of small things called The First and Second World Wars to pay for; mainly to our erstwhile US allies who insisted on payment in full.

      • SALLYFARRAR

        Sorry about that. We were too busy sending money to the losers—Japan and Germany, I suppose—-to help out our friends.

        • Jambo25

          I think we finished paying you off sometime in the late 90s or 2000s.

          • SALLYFARRAR

            I’m sorry about that. BTW, read elsewhere that London has the most billionaires “per capita” or something than any place on earth.

          • Jambo25

            I don’t live in London. I no longer regard it as a British city but a bordello for the world’s sleazy super-wealthy. It in no way benefits me and I’d like Scotland to get as far away from it, politically, economically and socially as possible.

  • justejudexultionis

    On Planet Dellingpole right-wing economics trump reality.

  • John Kenner

    Patriots: It is time to go on the offensive against the illusions and superstitions of today’s liberals and progressives: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0094KY878

  • Mara Naile-Akim

    isn’t looking at average earnings misleading? Does this allow for people out of work, on zero hours contracts, working part time? How does it balance average pay and total earnings? And then there’s the problem that a few people on massive earnings will skew the average.

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