Conservative Radicalism: A Sociology of Conservative Party Youth Structures and Libertarianism, 1970-1992

By Timothy Evans | Go to book overview

Chapter VI
CONCLUSION Maggie's Militants: A Sociology of Conservative Party Libertarian Youth

6.1 The Libertarians: Britain's First Post-Modern Political Youth Movement

Before the rise of the Conservative Party's Libertarians, Abrams and Little concluded there was little evidence to suggest the emergence of a new political generation within British youth politics.1 They argued that the youth activists of all parties were constrained to work in old institutions and accept old possibilities. The majority of activists during the mid-1960s were merely continuing family traditions of engagement in public affairs, which had often begun as a consequence of key 'politicising experiences' three generations away. The Dock Strike, the Revolution of 1905, and the Great War were all cited as important events that had brought many into politics.

For a majority in the FCS, however, such a family tradition did not exist. In contrast to their predecessors, not only did many of their parents vote for another party, but a substantial majority came from politically inactive backgrounds with no tradition of party membership.2 For these activists, the devaluation of the pound in 1967, the IMF loan of 1976 and the 1978-9 winter of discontent were the critical activating experiences.3 The 'stagflation' and legitimation crisis characteristic of the 1970s persuaded many to enter politics for the first time. As one typical ex-FCS member put it:

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Notes for this section begin on page 138.

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