Broken Britain. A phrase that has been minted and coined since, what feels like, the beginning of time. The term can be used to refer to a number of different events across Britain and has a multipurpose function that can be used to reflect disenchantment, division or anger of the general population at a single event such as the hacking of Milly Dowler’s phone by the News of the World or wider issues like the continuing breakdown and privatisation of NHS services.
Broken Britain, however, is a term that sprung to mind very recently when I was watching a programme “The Week the Landlords Moved In” on BBC One where landlords moved into properties they own over the period of a week to see and feel how their tenants live with the same weekly budget after rent. I personally believe this fundamentally epitomised the complete social disconnection in modern day society and was clearly highlighted in Episode Four where landlord Ben visited and stayed with tenant Tilly in her house near Surrey University. During the stay Ben said he was surprised the most by “all of them having summer jobs”, and weren’t the stereotypical image of lazy, party animals as they went to bed at 9pm so they could go to work.
In my opinion this defines a Broken Britain as many adults who either do not have children that are students at the moment or never had children, do not realise that having a summer job or part time job whilst at university is no longer a privilege to earn money alongside studies but a necessity to survive. Furthermore, as Ben later on had the audacity to divulge in front of Tilly and her mother that although he, like Tilly’s mother, did not give financial assistance to his children, they were able to invest their student loans, exhibiting the disconnection older members of the community have with young people. As in Ben’s case, he was oblivious to the constant pressure of student’s who are now more than ever facing crippling debts after university with now an added threat of legal action if unable to repay them.
This disconnection between young and older generations is further highlighted by the lack of support by young voters for the Conservative party currently and during the 2017 General Election where Labour gained a number of seats largely due to a significant student turnout. During the election the Conservative party did very little to reach out to disenchanted young voters who have felt the crippling oppression of years of austerity rule with their futures seeming less bright and fewer opportunities than generations before. This was especially the case because of the result of the EU Referendum, which has left many young people feeling voiceless, powerless and angry that the opportunities and prospects their parents had were being taken away by largely a generation who had enjoyed those very privileges. Conservatives additionally presumed, rather naïvely, like landlord Ben that students were lazy and wouldn’t be bothered to “get out of bed” to vote, obviously shaking the party a it was discovered that the number of 18-24 year olds voting had risen 16% from 2015 to 2017 with large majority voting and continuing to support Labour.
Therefore the malleable phrase Broken Britain, which is frequently used to describe a number of social, political and economic crises in Britain fits aptly into this criteria of social disconnection as many adults are ignorant to the plight of the younger “snowflake” generation. However, as young people begin to reclaim the lectern after nearly a decade of having lost its voice in Broken Britain, political parties and the older generation will have to take the demands of young people seriously by understanding and attending to their