Instead of a trophy, England’s national team have inherited something far more precious: the mantle of the official opposition.
For most of the nation’s under-40s – the generations known as millennials and zoomers – Tory Britain represents a double-pronged onslaught on their economic security and deeply held social values. When Marcus Rashford – a “23-year-old black man from Withington and Wythenshawe”, in his own words – shamed the government into feeding hundreds of thousands of children, he was leading a rebellion on behalf of that most voiceless demographic, the young working class. 以来 2010, when the Conservatives came to power with the help of the Liberal Democrats, 800,000 子供達 in working households have been driven below the breadline; however momentarily, they were handed one of the nation’s loudest megaphones. When the England team took the knee, they affirmed the value of the lives of Black people in a nation whose government has cynically fanned racism for electoral ends, up to and including constructing a hostile environment that deported Windrush-generation Britons from their own country.
Boris Johnson and his acolytes refused to condemn the booing of their own national team for a very simple reason – they knew that those baying ghouls represented a crucial pillar of their support base that they did not want to alienate. When Conservative ministers then had the front to condemn the racism directed at England’s players, which they helped legitimise, it fell to England centre-back Tyrone Mings to point out the hypocrisy. “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’,” he tweeted, 「「& then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens.”
That this is England’s most outspoken national team is no freakish accident. Hailing from across the nation – from south Manchester to Bath to Neasden – they are unmistakable products of their generation. Young people have for some time now been revolting against an ancien regime in Westminster that is rigged against their living standards and their progressive values; and however flush these players’ bank accounts are, they cannot escape where they came from.
I know that talk of youth revolt can trigger a weary, “heard this all before” roll of eyes, followed by cliched references to how the young inevitably become conservative as they grow older. Yet this youthful revolt です 新着. Our understanding of the politics of the 1960s is warped by US college campus revolts: American youths were more likely to support the Vietnam war and the segregationist presidential candidate George Wallace than their elders. イギリスで, the historian Dominic Sandbrook has pointed out that just one in ten young Britons went to university in the 1960s, and surveys of students tended to show little sympathy with the left. The anti-Vietnam war demonstration in Grosvenor Square in 1968 became the stuff of protest legend, but there were just 10,000 there, my late father among them.
When Margaret Thatcher attacked the postwar social democratic settlement, she did so with the active support of much of the young, who rewarded her with a decisive lead in 1983: her populist – but unrealised – promise that rolling back the state would liberate the individual captured the then zeitgeist. Some of those then youthful Thatcherites would later be satisfied with New Labour’s accommodation with free market economics, だが many in their older years returned firmly back to the Tory fold.
なので research by the rightwing thinktank the Institute of Economic Affairs underlines, younger Britons today have markedly shifted leftwards. Two-thirds would prefer to live in a socialist economic system, 72% support public ownership of industry and large majorities blame capitalism for the climate emergency and the housing crisis. The authors of the report were particularly disturbed by the staying power of these convictions: “It is no longer true that people ‘grow out’ of socialist ideas as they get older.”
The progressive social values of the young have undoubtedly been forged by the accumulation of successful struggles for the rights of minorities and women over many decades. Those outlooks become embedded in popular culture, reflected back by key cultural influencers, reinforcing their hegemony among younger generations. Mass mobilisations in support of movements ranging from Black Lives Matter to Extinction Rebellion – both on the streets and online – disseminate these ideas further. The young are also a diverse cohort: 沿って 2015, one in three English primary students were from an ethnic minority. 一方, 例えば, British newspapers light the touchpaper of moral panic against trans people, the young – and particularly younger women – support this profoundly marginalised minority in ever greater numbers.
Those values have welded with profound economic insecurities: these generations have only known shredded youth services, a slashed welfare state, student debt, an all-consuming housing crisis, often precarious and low-paid work, and stagnating or falling wages. These are not the consequences of sadism on the part of the Tories: they are simply the logical endpoint of the government shoring up an older, socially conservative voter coalition by driving up house prices, keeping their tax burden low and tapping into their most reactionary impulses. 今のところ, it works: those loyal true-blue voters have made it abundantly clear that they will stick by Johnson’s 保守派. その間, the Labour party has abandoned the most elementary functions of opposition.
But fury simmers among the country’s younger generations, and it will erupt to the surface in diverse ways – from protests to the viral tweets of football players. One day they may not only seek vengeance, but deliver it.