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The Young And The Conservative?

Greetings America. Life is full of surprises. I have three children. They're all in their early twenties. They are the reason I'm still working really. I need the money. It's what's keeping me and my kids in touch. That and our washing machine.

I mustn't knock them though: they're good kids. And at least we're still talking.

What surprises me is to find that they turn out to be so typical of young people in Britain today. To be honest, my image of the stereotype young Brit is of a lazy, computer-addicted couch potato who only gets up to get drunk, and communicates largely by grunting into a cell phone.

But it seems I've got it all wrong. Because the most comprehensive ever survey of the attitudes and behaviour of 15- to 24-year olds in Britain today has just revealed a very different portrait of contemporary youngsters on this side of the pond. Sloth, excessive drinking and an obsession with designer labels - all to the fore in the 1990s - are now definitely on the way out. The survey shows that drink, drugs and sex are still important to young people, but less than they were a decade ago. They still like to go out clubbing, but what do you think is their favourite occupation? Talking. Yes, just sitting with friends, having a chat.

What are they talking about? Peace in our time? The future of the planet? No, apparently, today's young are not concerned with ethical issues in the way we were in the sixties and seventies. They have little desire to change the world. Modern youth in Britain isn't interested in politics or protest. That's official. The rebellious behaviour of previous generations is being replaced by more conservative attitudes, moderate socialising, a fear of failure and stress caused by education and money worries.

Oh dear, America, it seems that youth is being wasted on the young.

by Gyles Brandreth

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