Some years ago I assisted in arranging a garden party for those mainly of the younger generation. We had awnings, food, booze and a string band - all, we imagined, that was needed for these bright young things to become effervescent. As I watched, they had splintered into many small pairs or trios that knew eachother, and worryingly many lone figures not interacting. A septuagenarian Chelsea Arts Club member stood with me and advised firmly "You've forgotten what it's like to be that age. They want to be organised, told what to do. Go on!" So we organised games, encouraged non-sexual physical contact and interaction but most successfully got them dancing English folk dances that were designed for just this purpose. Don't laugh. If you've never Stripped the Willow or circled the Draper's Maggot* you haven't lived. We were blessed with a skilled and enthusiastic string band who for little more than money and beer exceeded their contractual sets and it became a roaring success.
I share that anecdote by way of introduction to a report and poll that, at time of writing, are not available online but clearly will emerge soon from their embargo as the Telegraph's Camilla Tominey has penned a teaser piece. "A third of millennials want martial law and 66 per cent prefer strong leader over parliament, poll finds" reads the strapline. It will I am sure be more nuanced than that, but the spin is the thing for the originators.
'Onward' is a Cameronian soft sort of dilettante centre right remainian think tank based on the premise that what young people want is, erm, a soft Cameronian centre-right remainian politics. However, they have produced one decent report - Generation Why? - that is worth reading. I will wait for both the Onward report and supporting Hanbury Strategy poll before commenting on the pre-release spin.
I have commented before on other research that suggests strongly that the young are far less keenly committed to democratic forms than my own generation. Of course, they've never lived through the Lord Chamberlain's censorship, the battles that TW3, the Pythons, Oz, Private Eye and the whole counterculture movement fought in the '60s and '70s. Or the Cold War, when the nation's wealth went on guns rather than butter. We didn't drink Mateus Rose because we had no taste but because the economy had little room to support frivolities such as wine.
Forgive me if once again I stress the utterly fundamental importance of free political association, universal suffrage and the secret ballot. If the anti-democrats who are so determined to erode these fundamental guarantors of freedom are making headway with the Millennials, I am worried.
*Both of which, for maximum enjoyment, should be danced slightly drunk by people who get the moves wrong