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General elections should be all about policy rather than personalities. But what about the non political vibes that may decide how you cast your vote? And why is Jeremy Corbyn rather than Theresa May such an unlikely icon for younger voters?
The impression I get of Theresa May is that she is a retro figure who would love to turn Britain back when she was born in the 1950s – the days when the Ford Popular was the car for the aspiring masses and yes, we had lots and lots of grammar schools.
Her demeanour is everything like the prim and prissy heads of old single sex grammar schools who ruled the roost, took no prisoners, and bullied the staff as well as the pupils.
They had a very narrow vision of Britain based on God, Queen and Country and thought girls should be well mannered ( no swearing), academically bright and get a professional job.
It is no wonder then that she has made grammar schools the centrepiece of her 21st century education policy – they reflect her own image and values. They also co-opted a very small section of academically bright working class fellows – just to make sure the great unwashed lost any aspiring leader who would foment dissent and acquired the right middle class values.
As a head of a girls grammar school she would have eschewed violence- caning was for men – but anybody who was naughty would be put in detention and made to write lines.
I imagine as PM she would love to punish the millions of Remainers in Britain by making them stay in their homes for an hour and write ” I love Brexit” 100 times until they were forced to agree.
Her views on immigration are also very 1950s. She is not racist but she is obviously missing the almost exclusively white grammar school classroom – with just the odd aspiring West Indian and Asian to add a bit of flavour and hopefully imbibe middle class values. Which is why we get the tens of thousands mantra rather than free movement.
I wonder what she really thinks of the internet – which allows free rein to any expression – given she wants to control what is said – something that even China finds difficult. It reminds me of what one angry director said about me criticising his product – you ‘re quite at liberty to moan about it in the pub but you shouldn’t put your views online for everyone to see because it damages my company.
None of the above is likely to appeal to the majority of the young who like Britain being a tolerant, open, multicultural and diverse place and don’t want to be bossed about.
Which then brings me to Grandad Jeremy. By rights he shouldn’t be an obvious icon. Every idea and political stance he had is supposed to be old hat – like renationalisation of the railways and saying trade unions are a good thing. The youth have been told for years by the Sun and the Mail he is an extremist and supports dangerous terrorists and has radical policies that will destroy Britain.
But I suspect they have been surprised by what they have seen. It does not marry with what they have been told. To them he must look more like a thoughtful grandad who has retained his youthful idealism. They may not agree with everything he says but they respect him for sticking to what he believes and not being phased by strong criticism or bossy interviewers.
Also young people – being young – are normally full of idealism themselves – they are not naturally bitter and twisted and don’t hate the present Britain they live in. They might like the fact that as a politician he doesn’t do personal abuse. And they might agree that indiscriminate bombing of civilians is not the way to ensure lasting peace.
The Establishment may laugh at him having an allotment or wearing home knitted jumpers but I suspect that cuts no ice with the young – whose grandads may also have allotments and have granmas who can knit.
It is this underlying contrast that I suspect has caused a bit of a sea change in the expected outcome of the election – which on day 1 looked a slam dunk for the Tories with a majority of 150 to 200. It may still not change the ultimate result but it is no longer clear cut and there are 11 days to run.