This is a meme:
This isn’t the only place online it appears. By a meme, I mean it’s an idea. An idea that says the reason why young people are supporting Jeremy Corbyn is because they don’t know how bad Chairman Mao or Pol Pot were.
It leads to ridiculous suggestions, like Britain should open a museum of Communist Terror, which was floated in the Spectator. Presumably to stop young people voting Labour, which I guess is what Tories think museums are for. That and recasting Britain’s colonial history as glorious.
That was a meme, but here are some truths: wages are stagnant, young people can’t afford to get on the housing ladder, nurses and teachers are using food banks to survive, the sick and injured are waiting hours for treatment in A&E. The only party leader who had serious suggestions for tackling these problems in the 2017 election was Corbyn. He wasn’t saying he wanted to seize the means of production and hand them over to worker controlled Soviets.
Let’s not forget that 40-45 year olds mainly voted Labour last year. These are people who grew up during the Cold War and voted for Tony Blair in 1997, 2001 and 2005 before supporting Corbyn now.
Of course the writers above didn’t mean people in their 40s. They mean young people sharing Sassy Socialist Memes on Facebook. People too young to remember the Cold War. The entire implication is these SnapChat socialists don’t understand what they are supporting.
The economy right now really isn’t working for young people. Houses are too expensive. Rented homes are too expensive, insecure and are frequently in poor condition. Work is also insecure and poorly paid. Costs of living are rising while wages are stagnant. This is what a lot of young people want to change and they have found the symbol of that change in Corbyn. They don’t support him because they don’t know what the Killing Fields were.
Opponents of Corbyn are quick to say that they have sympathy with his supporters’ problems, but their proposals are that they should support politicians who are not offering solutions to them, and in some cases were in power for years whilst these problems got worse. What they are certain about is that what young people really mustn't do is vote for politicians who are offering solutions to these problems.
It’s not a good long term strategy for centrists or conservatives to dismiss the concerns of young people like this. It shows how out of touch they are when they say that the reason for Corbyn’s surge in the polls is that young people don’t know about Stalin’s purges or his collectivisation of the farms.
Communism is not suddenly about to break out in the UK. Support for paying nurses and teachers more, building more affordable homes and bringing the railways into public ownership (as they are in almost every other European country - Germany is hardly a Communist country) were not policies of The Khmer Rouge.
Being out of touch with the pressures on young people and dismissing their concerns is what has led to the rise of politicians such as Corbyn and, in America, Sanders. If centrists or conservatives want to win back the support of the young (young people voted overwhelmingly for Thatcher in 1983) then not dismissing their concerns as the product of ignorance is a good place to start.
It is simply not true to compare raising taxes on the richest 5%, or wanting to tackle the rise in child poverty, or the growing dependency on food banks to Communism. Corbyn is not going to be a British Pol Pot and his opponents should stop sharing daft memes that imply that he is.