An interesting new report from the think tank Reform analyses the results of focus group work with members of the 18-34 IPOD generation (which stands for Insecure, Pressurised, Over-taxed and Debt-ridden). It finds that young people are turned off by business as usual politics. As Reform put it:
"This generation is frustrated with an opaque and remote government geared towards the more cynical Generation X and the baby boomers. They want to be told it like it is, not be confused by political spin or shut out. In particular, they want to know where their money is being spent and who is accountable for delivering public services. Value for money, and localised, personalised services are key.
"Young people also want a government that provides leadership. The report shows that all the main parties are right to have accepted the principle of “choice” as a centrepiece of public service reform policy – it is instinctively seen as something good by this generation. But choice has to work in practice. They want a limited range of services from which to choose and clear, accessible information to help them make the right choices, rather than being involved in an abstract debate on choice and delivery options."
These are encouraging findings. In the future it will no longer be possible simply to spend enormous amounts of money on public services with no plans for reform and get away with it for so long. To attract support, political parties will have to be smarter than that.