Meet Millennial Millie, the new swing voter

An election looms and political parties are already talking ‘voter demographics’. Every few years, the wonks of Westminster pick a social stereotype and decide it represents a crucial group of swing voters. We’ve had Mondeo Man, Waitrose Woman and Pebbledash Person. Who will it be in 2024? It could be Deano, a snooty term used to describe aspirational lower-middle class blokes. Deano is proud to own a new-build house, a car bought on finance and a perfect set of pearly whites. He has had a bit of a tricky time recently, watching interest rates shoot up. Deano might have once voted Tory from his Red Wall seat, although after that

Why do young people fall for Holocaust conspiracies?

Millennials and Generation Z pride themselves on being ‘anti-racist’. We might, then, expect that remembering the Holocaust properly would be important to them – it was the largest act of racial hatred in modern history. The truth is very different and more troubling. New research commissioned by the Claims Conference finds Dutch millennials and Gen Z are more likely than the rest of the public to be ignorant of the Holocaust, deny the facts, oppose acknowledging the Netherlands’s role, and be sympathetic to contemporary Nazism. While 12 per cent of Dutch adults believe ‘the Holocaust is a myth’ or ‘the number of Jews who died has been greatly exaggerated’, that jumps to

Beware the sex party bores

You know you’re getting old when your friends start going to sex parties. In our twenties, there were parties, and sometimes people would have sex at them. But they were never known as sex parties. Now we are firmly in our thirties, the phrase ‘sex party’ is creeping into everyday conversations alongside mortgage rates, nursery options and the cost of living. At a country wedding recently, I caught up with an old acquaintance. While we ate our lemon possets, I bored on about mother-hood and she bored on about sex parties. I can’t repeat what she divulged, but the conversation felt strangely familiar. It concerned racy outfits and group sex.

Why must younger generations constantly ‘work on themselves’?

If I could lift one thing from younger generations, unpeel one idea from their anxious minds, it would be the notion they have to ‘work on themselves’, and that the point of life is to do this ‘work’ until they feel able to have a relationship, at which point they must grimly set about working on that. I’m not suggesting that it’s not useful to have treatment or therapy for a particular problem, but it’s as if everyone born after 1990 thinks of themselves the way 1950s man thought of his car — as something to be worked on in every spare moment, tinkered with and polished, but rarely taken

The techniques of totalitarianism are still fully in play today

How to Become a Tyrant (Netflix) is ideal history TV for Generation No Attention Span. Presented in six bite-sized chunks by Peter Dinklage, aka the ‘Imp’ Tyrion Lannister from Game of Thrones, it tells you most of the things you need to know about Hitler, Stalin, Mao, Gaddafi, Kim Il-Sung, Idi Amin and Saddam Hussein, without obliging you to think or grapple with any tedious detail. Instead of examining the dictators individually, it explores their careers thematically, looking for the ingredients they have in common. It’s split into half-hour episodes — ‘Seize Power’, ‘Crush Your Rivals’, ‘Reign Through Terror’, ‘Control the Truth’, ‘Create a New Society’, ‘Rule Forever’ — which

We must defend freedom of reaction

Debbie Harry, Blondie’s lead singer, has written a memoir in which she relates, in her usual deadpan, punk-rock way, the strange, horrific things that have happened to her. She had a narrow escape from Ted Bundy, the serial killer; David Bowie showed her his penis (‘adorable’, apparently) and early in her pop career she was raped by an opportunist burglar. ‘He poked around, searching for anything worth anything. He piled up the guitars and Chris’s camera. Then he untied my hands and told me to take off my pants… I can’t say I felt a lot of fear,’ writes Debbie. ‘In the end, the stolen guitars hurt me more than

OK zoomer, is that really the best you’ve got?

Every generation and teen subculture likes to put the boot into baby boomers like me. I’ve been physically attacked by skinheads, verbally assaulted by right-wing intellectuals and mocked by millennials. But I never thought I would be subjected to the derision and verbal lashings of Generation Z. The ‘zoomers’ — that is, people born after about 1995 — have come up with a cutting and dismissive retort for older people: ‘OK boomer.’ It all began when an elderly man posted a video on the social media app Tik-Tok denouncing the younger generation. They were, he claimed, suffering from ‘Peter Pan syndrome’ and ‘needed to grow up’. Not exactly an original

The arresting truth about snowflakes

I was driving to Gunnersbury Park last Sunday for my weekly 10K run when I caught the tail end of Broadcasting House on Radio 4. The presenter Paddy O’Connell was interviewing George King, the 19-year-old who scampered up the Shard at the beginning of July without the aid of ropes or suction cups. As you’d expect, he was impressive. He first set eyes on Britain’s tallest building as a 13-year-old on a school trip and decided then and there that he wanted to climb it. He embarked on years of rigorous training, taking up boxing and running a 62-mile ultramarathon. Last August, he became the first person to ‘free climb’

Why zero deposit mortgages will make the gap between rich and poor worse

A common opinion in today’s media is that millennials have it all – flexibility in jobs, a greater freedom to travel, and all the information they need at their fingertips. However, if you dive a bit deeper into the statistics, things don’t appear to be as rosy as we first thought. Today’s young face longer commutes than those before them and are confronted by an increasingly out of reach property sector. Over the last 20 years we’ve seen nothing short of a collapse in homeownership amongst younger people. In 1995-96, sixty five percent of those with incomes in the middle twenty percent for their age owned their own home. In 2015-16

Renter’s paradise

On turning 50, I realised I’d never own my own home. What bank would agree to give a mortgage to someone with no regular source of income? Even if I did somehow hold down a job, I would have just 15 years until retirement age. For a while, I was depressed. Owning your own home is the British dream. Why else would all those property shows I drool over be so popular? I won’t have anything to hand down to my kids. What sort of loser am I? Then I remembered: I live in a five-bedroom Victorian terrace in Islington, which is owned by the council. At £650 per month,

This will end badly | 15 November 2018

Pinter Three appeals to opposite poles of the play-going spectrum. The birdbrains like me will enjoy the music-hall sketches while the goatee-strokers will have fun pretending that Pinter’s deadly earnest memory plays are worth seeing. Watching the first piece, Landscape, is like receiving a jigsaw puzzle in instalments. Two characters, Duff and Beth, speak to us without acknowledging each other. Maybe they’re married. Maybe they aren’t. Duff, played by Keith Allen, is a barking, aggressive know-all who works as a chauffeur. Tamsin Greig’s Beth is a prattling Irish scullery maid who witters on about ‘having a baby’ with a lover who may be Duff, or an unseen chap named Sykes,

Is ethical investment only for millennials and hipsters?

In the ‘bad old days’ – namely before the late 20th century – it was traditionally the case that the less ethical and the less green a business or sector, the better. There was, and still is, a whole cacophony of ‘sin stocks, from tobacco to oil and gas to defence and junk food. The reason for an enthusiasm for all things sinful was, and probably still is, because such businesses tended to have the most secure profits profile. After all, people will always smoke, go to war and binge eat. However, from a moral standpoint investors would be scraping the bottom of the barrel in terms of a clear

Retirement is in crisis and employers, as well as employees, must plan for the future

The idea of working 9-5 until you receive a gold watch at age 60 is dying out fast. Millennials seem to have the biggest millstone around their neck: a survey of under-35s by Prudential found that over a third of millennials believe that, despite saving as much as they can, they are never going to save enough for a comfortable retirement. The cost of living longer in retirement is pushing the average retirement age higher, and millennials’ struggle to fill their pension pot will lead to them postponing retirement even longer. Changing generational trends could be affecting productivity in business too. Companies who look closely at their baby-boomer employees’ retirement plans are

Diary – 30 August 2018

Attending my goddaughter Cara Delevingne’s 26th birthday party at the trendy Chateau Marmont hotel in LA, I was interested to see how today’s young dress to party. Forget the fairy frocks, cocktail dresses and lounge suits I remember from my Hollywood parties in the golden age; it was shorts, ragged jeans and T-shirts emblazoned with cryptic messages for the boys, and minute, fabric-saving, low-cut dresses for the gals. Or perhaps it was the other way around. Fortunately the Chateau hasn’t yet succumbed to the fad for gender-neutral toilets that almost every institution in the UK has adopted. Where is a girl supposed to apply some lippy and have a quiet

Lionel Shriver

Taking offence has become a blood sport

In a recent column, I vowed to return to a point made in passing. To refresh your memory, the American magazine the Nation printed a formal apology for running a harmless 14-line poem by a white writer about homelessness. The poet’s sins: using the word ‘cripple’ and adopting a voice lightly evoking what I gather we’re now to call ‘AAVE’: African-American Vernacular English. Facebookers were incensed, comments huffy. The poet apologised, too. I decried this ritual progressive self-abasement as cowardly and undignified. But it’s worth taking a second look at that story as a prime example of screaming emotional fraudulence in the public sphere. Employing today’s prescribed lexicon, those apologies

And I think to myself, not a wonderful world

The story of Jay Austin and Lauren Geoghegan is an interesting one, I think, for what it tells us about the right, the left and human nature. These two youngish people — both 29, one of them a vegan, the other a vegetarian — jacked in their wonkish jobs in Washington DC in order to experience the world in all its glory. Their itinerary included dangerous areas — or at least areas deemed dangerous by western governments with an axe to grind. As Jay put it: ‘People, the narrative goes, are not to be trusted. People are bad. People are evil. I don’t buy it. Evil is a make-believe concept

Is sex too messy for millennials?

They may have perfected the sexy selfie and a nonchalance about internet porn but millennials are just not that into sex. The guilty secret behind today’s swipe-right hookup culture is not promiscuity but abstinence. Research out this week suggests that one in eight 26-year-olds have never had sex, up from one in 20 a generation ago. According to Steve McKay, professor in social research at Lincoln University, the true figure may be even higher; if those who refused to answer the question were also virgins then the number of abstainers rises to 16.4 per cent, or one in six. Last year’s National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles revealed a

The Tories’ biggest problem at the next election? Generation Rent

The government is currently busying itself trying to win retrospective Commons votes on Theresa May’s Syria intervention and clearing up the Home Office’s Windrush mess. But should they have time for some morning reading, today’s Resolution Foundation research on millenials’ property prospects ought to give cause for alarm. The think tank predicts that one in three millennials will never own their own home. Instead, they will have to live – and potentially raise families – in privately rented accommodation throughout their lives. And that’s before we get to what happens when they stop working and rely on a pension. What’s more, half of current UK 20-35-year-olds are expected to be renting

Blue pill-pushers

In September last year, official figures showed a startling rise in the number of young British men turning up at A&E with painfully persistent erections. The number of admissions for priapism, to use the medical term, has increased by 51 per cent on the previous decade. Medical experts suggested that the cause was young men taking Viagra in combination with other illegal drugs. This may come as a surprise to anyone who assumed that taking Viagra was the preserve of older men who want to keep their sex life going for as long as possible. But now, 20 years after the famous blue pills were first approved, they are a

Are young Londoners financially squeezed?

London, along with other capital cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Kyoto are thought to be one of the most expensive cities to live in the world. So is London Mayor Sadiq Khan, going too far by suggesting that every young Londoner should be entitled to a bank account? The simple logic should be: if you can’t afford to live and work in London, don’t move to London. But I suppose it is not as simple as that, and the good, great and the millennials have been lured to the Capital for studying, family or work reasons. This sort of simple logic might be a tad unreasonable. In the first week