James Forsyth James Forsyth

The optimism deficit

The extent of public pessimism in Britain is striking. 54 percent of people think that young people’s lives will be worse than that of their parents’ generation.

This pessimism, I argue in the column this week, explains why Ukip is doing so well. If you think that life is getting worse regardless of what you do, then you want to cast a vote of no confidence in the entire political class—and the easiest way to do that is to vote Ukip. As one Tory minister says, ‘Ukip has captured a zeitgeist of grumpiness.’

I think there are three things fuelling this mood of pessimism. There is the financial crash and the subsequent squeeze on living standards combined with the sense that those who crashed the system haven’t paid for their mistakes. Then, there is immigration, which has caused cultural and economic insecurity in some parts of the country. Finally, there’s the sense that life is going to be even tougher for people’s children.

This mood of pessimism is a particular problem for David Cameron as the incumbent. If the Tories are going to win the next election, then they are going to have to show voters that they are getting the country back onto the right track​.

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