Young adults who came of age during the premiership of Tony Blair are more likely to hold conservative economic views similar to Margaret Thatcher, an analysis has found.
The research found the views of young people swung to the right economically since Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979 and have never gone back. However, they are becoming more liberal on social issues.
The research team, who published their findings in the British Journal of Political Science, said young people in Britain were not swinging to the left compared to their parents, at least economically, and were more likely to support free-market economics, tough policies on benefits and value self-reliance.
The researchers had assumed that younger people would be more progressive and liberal.
“Thatcher changed the course of British politics and social attitudes,” the study said. “Her values – or the values that have come to be associated with her name – permeate British society today as subsequent governments have not challenged her ideology.”
“For better or worse, it seems that we still live in Thatcher’s Britain.”
Young people who grew up during the age of Thatcher were also more likely to favour a tough line on law and order, and expect people to obey authority, however those of came of age during the Blair years were more likely to be liberal in this respect.
The team of researchers from Sheffield University and the University of Southampton also found there were no consistent differences in political outlook between men and women, while poorer people were even more likely to favour a tougher line on jobless benefits.
Will Jennings, Professor of Political Science and Public Policy at the University of Southampton, said that the Blair era, or ‘New Labour’, essentially entrenched and strengthened some values from the Thatcher era.
“New Labour was essentially about reinforcing Thatcherite policy values,” he said.
“Thatcherite values were reproduced under New Labour and become stronger and embedded in the generation that came of age after Thatcher’s time in office.”