Will the real Thatcher generation please stand up?

According to a new study entitled Maggie’s Children by a think-tank those born between 1980 and 1995 fall into this category. And boy are they in for a hard time over the next 50 years.

The poor lambs have been tagged the “unlucky generation”, thanks largely to such obstacles as student debt and spiralling property prices. The report states that within the next five decades they will face an impoverished and lonely old age. The Policy Exchange is now suggesting the time is right for a major adjustment in housing, pensions, savings and education policy.

At least it hit the nail on the head with that piece of blinding insight.

But I do have to take issue. Calling them Magggie’s Children, for a start, is wildly misleading because surely they are the product of the Thatcher Generation – Maggie’s Grandchildren, maybe, but her offspring are those born between 1966 and 1975.

I include myself in this category of the real Thatcher generation, having entered the world in 1968. By the time Mrs Thatcher was exercising power with an iron fist, I was becoming more socially and politically aware. It was hard not to be, especially growing up in South Wales and witnessing the immediate impact of her time as Prime Minister albeit from a safe distance and largely second-hand.

My generation largely fell into one of two categories – they either embraced the attitudes and aspirations that were first apparent in so-called Yuppies and which are still evident in today’s conspicuous credit card debt amassing consumerism, or they were galvanised to take a more worldly, socially aware and responsible view. They are broad pen portraits and there is a large, quite densely populated middle ground inhabited by many who share traits from both, but Thatcher’s generation remain as polarised and divided as the society she created.

So it is my generation that has spawned the section of society that the Policy Exchange is profiling in this report. Maggie’s Children is right in so many ways, but so wrong as well. Spiralling house prices impact on us all now and will continue to do so in the future. A major overhaul of social and financial policies is required to help us all now and will continue to do so, irrespective of our age and background.

The concern expressed for the future of the 1980-1995 age group is, however, quite appropriate – what a sorry bunch they are. Maggie’s Grandchildren, as surely they should be known, are a petulant, self-absorbed, blinkered generation unwilling or unable to consider anyone or anything else.

They have become so used to holding out their hand and demanding more – toys, junk food, electronic gadgets, money, support, fame, fortune and sympathy – that they have lost all touch with reality. They expect everything to be provided for them. Dare to ask them to help themselves and the tantrums quickly follow.

But I would say that, wouldn’t I? Not simply because each generation despises the one that eventually follows.

After all, I’m the real product of an unfeeling, arrogant, brash, belligerent, overbearing government. I’m Maggie’s child.


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