From Institute of Economic Affairs <[email protected]>
Subject Left turn ahead?
Date July 11, 2021 8:26 AM
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Over the past couple of years, the stereotype of the "woke socialist Millennial" has become a staple of the tabloid press. In popular imagination, this type of person divides their time more or less evenly between attending left-wing protest marches, toppling statues, looking for things to get offended by, cancelling people they disagree with, and chanting “Oh Jeremy Corbyn ([link removed]) ”.

But how much truth is there in that popular stereotype? Are young people really that much more left-wing and anti-capitalist than previous generations? Or is this mostly a media hype?

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To look at the issue in a more systematic way, the IEA has commissioned extensive polling from Forefront Market Research ([link removed]) . My new report Left turn ahead: Surveying attitudes of young people towards capitalism and socialism ([link removed]) discusses the results, alongside a review of the evidence from previous attitude studies on related subject areas.

It’s messy, but the cliché of the "woke socialist Millennial" contains a lot of truth. The overwhelming majority of young people really do express stridently anti-capitalist views on a range of issues. To name just one finding: three out of four young people agree with the statement that "socialism is a good idea, but it has failed in the past because it has been badly done (for example in Venezuela)". That statement is wrong in so many ways that one could easily fill a book about it (which, as it happens, I already have ([link removed]) ), but it is also the mainstream view in that age group.

For free marketeers, these findings are not a reason to panic. Britain is not on the brink of a socialist revolution. But they do need to start taking the backlash against capitalism a lot more seriously than they currently do, rather than dismiss it with statements along the lines of "the young are just going through a phase" or "they will grow out of it".

Hopefully, this report is going to act as a wake-up call for defenders of the market economy.

I discussed the report with Gloria De Piero and Liam Halligan on GB News ([link removed]) , and with Mike Graham on talkRADIO ([link removed]) . I also wrote about it for the Telegraph ([link removed]) , City AM ([link removed]) and CapX ([link removed]) .

Dr Kristian Niemietz
Head of Political Economy, Institute of Economic Affairs

As Kristian mentioned, on Tuesday the IEA published Left turn ahead: Surveying attitudes of young people towards capitalism and socialism ([link removed]) , which included polling of Millennials and Generation Z.

It revealed that 67 per cent say they would like to live in a socialist economic system; 75 per cent agree with the assertion that climate change is a specifically capitalist problem; 78 per cent blame capitalism for Britain’s housing crisis; and 72 per cent support the (re-)nationalisation of various industries such as energy, water and the railways.

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On GB News ([link removed]) , Kristian said he was unsurprised by the results, and he flagged that the housing crisis is a major driver of these attitudes. You can watch a clip of the interview here ([link removed]) .

The paper was covered widely in the media, including in the Daily Express ([link removed]) , Guido Fawkes ([link removed]) , ([link removed]) , The Big Issue ([link removed]) , Unherd ([link removed]) and Conservative Home ([link removed]) .

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Writing for CapX ([link removed]) , Kristian noted that Millennial socialism is by no means just a social media phenomenon. Rather, as the polling shows, it is increasingly prevalent in the real world too.

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In an article for The Telegraph ([link removed]) , Kristian argued that it is no longer true that young people "grow out" of socialism as they get older, in the way some previous generations did. With this in mind, Kristian concluded that supporters of the market economy must not get complacent; the case for capitalism has to be "made anew, and won anew."

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IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham discussed the report on BBC Politics Live ([link removed]) with Tom Hunt MP, David Linden MP and Ash Sarkar. The panel also debated the easing of lockdown restrictions and the Nationality and Borders Bill. You can watch a clip here ([link removed]) .

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Millennial socialism was a topic for debate on this week's Live with Littlewood. Host and IEA Director General Mark Littlewood was joined by Patrick Christys, Presenter at talkRADIO; William Clouston, Leader of the Social Democrat Party; Dr Jan Macvarish, Education and Events Director at the Free Speech Union; Kristian Niemietz; Tom Slater, Deputy Editor at Spiked; and Professor Len Shackleton, IEA Editorial and Research Fellow. Catch up here ([link removed]) .

The panel also discussed restrictions on freedom of thought and expression in the UK today, following the publication of the new IEA book Having your say: Threats to free speech in the 21st century ([link removed]) , edited by Len Shackleton. In the book, a variety of authors – academics, philosophers, comedians and more – stress the fundamental importance of free speech, one of the cornerstones of classical liberalism.

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On Friday, the IEA released a new briefing paper by IEA Economics Fellow Julian Jessop. The Importance of Imports ([link removed]) examines the economic benefits of free trade, specifically imports, and makes the case for the UK to unilaterally reduce our barriers to trade.

As Julian notes, the UK government promotes international trade under the banner ‘Exporting is GREAT’, but the economic benefits of free trade come mainly from what countries import, rather than from what they sell overseas.

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In the paper, Julian explains why tariffs on food imports are a bad idea and why we should not fear trade deficits with the EU, and he debunks the ten most commonly made arguments against unilateral free trade.

You can read and download the paper from the IEA website here ([link removed]) .

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Back to business... This week, Chancellor Rishi Sunak urged workers to get back to the office as soon as the government's work from home guidance is lifted on July 19th.

In an interview for GB News, IEA Director General Mark Littlewood welcomed the suggestion but argued that businesses should be free to adopt more flexible ways of working when it is beneficial to do so.

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Annabel wrote for The Telegraph ([link removed]) on calls for the government to mandate businesses to offer flexible working conditions. She argued that there is no need for a national scheme to dictate rules on homeworking, and the government should resist the urge to interfere in a matter that is between employer and employee.

Pensions lock... The Chancellor hinted this week that the pension triple lock, which would see the state pension going up by 8% next April, may be suspended this year.

Speaking to Jeremy Vine on BBC Radio 2 and Iain Dale on LBC, Mark Littlewood argued that we should consider scrapping the triple lock and redesigning the system so it is aimed at poverty relief, rather than hand outs for the affluent over 65s. He noted that it has been younger workers who have particularly felt the pinch of lockdown, 6 out of 10 of whom have seen their earnings fall over the course of the pandemic.

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Bank on green... Chancellor Rishi Sunak recently announced plans for £15bn of green savings bonds, which will allow people to invest in renewable energy projects such as wind and solar power.

Quoted in The Independent ([link removed]) , IEA Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer argued that the "devil is in the detail" as to whether these bonds will be worth the money. He warned that the government's record is poor when it comes to picking winners and that it would be generally preferable to leave such decisions to the market.

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To wear or not to wear? The government has said it plans to end the legal requirement to wear masks in public places. Nonetheless, the debate over whether people should still use the face coverings has continued.

In a debate column for the Daily Mirror ([link removed]) , IEA Director of Communications Annabel Denham argued that mask wearing should now be left to choice, but that we should not downplay their impact on some businesses' ability to operate normally.

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Compulsory face coverings were also the subject of Annabel's column in The Spectator ([link removed]) this week. She wrote that it is time to end the one-size-fits-all regulatory approach to managing the risks associated with Covid-19, and allow businesses and individuals to decide the appropriate level of caution.

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NHS turns 73...This week, the Queen awarded NHS staff with the George Cross to celebrate the health service's 73-year anniversary. Also writing for The Telegraph ([link removed]) , IEA Head of Public Affairs Emma Revell argued that this is another example of the "ongoing idolatry of the NHS" which has prevented frank discussion over the institution's shortcomings.

*The Swift Half with Snowdon ft. Kate Andrews

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In this week's episode of The Swift Half with Snowdon, IEA Head of Lifestyle Economics and host Christopher Snowdon spoke with Kate Andrews, Economics Correspondent at The Spectator.

They discussed the government's plans to end Covid restrictions on 19th July, the public debate over mask wearing, and the threat of inflation. You can catch up on the conversation here ([link removed]) on the IEA YouTube channel.

*Critical Race Theory and the workplace

On Friday, the IEA released its latest podcast episode. IEA Head of Media Emily Carver spoke to IEA Chief Operating Officer Andy Mayer about Critical Race Theory (CRT) and how it has become an integrated part of HR practice. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean ([link removed]) , Apple Podcasts ([link removed]) or Spotify ([link removed]) , or read Andy's recent 1828 article on CRT in the workplace here ([link removed]) .

Thank you to all of you who have already signed up to become an IEA Online Patron. Becoming a Patron grants you VIP access to our latest videos, priority invites to our virtual events, and the opportunity to engage directly with IEA Director General Mark Littlewood and the IEA team. For just a small donation you can get all these benefits and more.

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To visit the page and find out more about the IEA’s Patreon, follow the link here ([link removed]) or watch our trailer here ([link removed]) .

*Dorian Fisher Memorial Prize

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The deadline to enter this year's Dorian Fisher Essay Memorial Prize is Friday 30th July. The competition is open to all A-Level and IB students, with the chance of winning a first prize of £500, and £250 each for three runners-up. The top 20 entries will also all be invited to a special one-day event at the IEA in the autumn term.

The prize for this competition is named after Dorian Fisher, the wife of Sir Antony Fisher, founder of the IEA, who was a long-time supporter of the Institute and its work. You can find out more details on the IEA website here ([link removed]) . If you would like to enter, please send you entry to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) , clearly stating your name and school.

*Economics Thought Leaders Symposium (ETLS)

Applications are open to attend this year's Economics Thought Leaders Symposium. ELTS is an annual three-day residential symposium, jointly hosted by The Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham and the Institute of Economic Affairs. Senior undergraduates and postgraduates are invited to apply and, for those offered a place, it is entirely free to attend – there is no charge for accommodation, food or materials.

The theme for this year’s unique and exciting programme is the Future of Economic Thinking.

There are just 16 places available on this exclusive programme. To apply please send a CV (no more than two pages) and cover letter explaining why you would like to attend (250 words) and 500 words on which economic thinker you would erect a statue for to [email protected] (mailto:[email protected]) . The deadline for applications is 30th July 2021.
YOU'RE INVITED *In Conversation with Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP

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On Monday, 2nd August from 6-7pm, the IEA will host the Rt Hon Penny Mordaunt MP, Conservative Member of Parliament for Portsmouth North, for the latest in our In Conversation series with senior figures in public life. The event will be chaired by IEA Director General Mark Littlewood.

Penny Mordant is currently part of the Treasury team as Paymaster General. She has previously served as Secretary of State for Defence, Secretary of State for International Development, and Minister for Women and Equalities, and is a Royal Naval Reservist.

She is also the author of a new book Greater: Britain after the storm ([link removed]) which she will be discussing during the event. It is available to purchase here ([link removed]) .

The discussion will be live streamed on the IEA YouTube Channel here ([link removed]) .
*MA in Political Economy by Research

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The IEA is working with the Vinson Centre for the Public Understanding of Economics and Entrepreneurship at the University of Buckingham on the delivery of an MA in Political Economy by Research.

The programme can be completed by distance learning and is aimed at graduates with a strong interest in the history of economic ideas and the application of economics to questions of public policy.

Online seminars will cover topics on Adam Smith; David Ricardo; John Stuart Mill; Alfred Marshall; the marginalists and neoclassical economics; Karl Marx; Friedrich Hayek and the Austrians; J.M. Keynes; James Buchanan, Gordon Tullock and public choice theory; the Frankfurt School; and behavioural economics.

For further information, please follow the link here ([link removed]) .


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