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Britain has betrayed its children Our political class has broken its generational contract

(Stefan Rousseau - WPA Pool/Getty Images)


March 26, 2024   4 mins

Last year, the Financial Times reported from the village of Ichinono in Japan. In common with a lot of Japanese villages, Ichinono’s population is small, old and vanishing: just 53 people, most of them over retirement age. In Japan as a whole, the birth rate is 1.26, putting it well below replacement levels. Almost 30% of its population is over 65; 10% is over 80.

But Ichinono is special. In 2022, for the first time in two decades, a child was born there. Kuranosuke, writes the FT, is “cherished by a cooing, tribute-bearing platoon of surrogate grandparents from around the village”. Poems are written about him. A haiku is engraved on a plaque outside the toddler’s home. He is “a hero for simply existing”.

I thought about Kuranosuke while I was reading “The Big Ambition”, a new report by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel D’Souza. Its lead finding is that children don’t feel listened to: “Just one in five children in England believe their views are important to the adults who run the country, while only 10% of teenagers believe they have the power to influence the issues they care about.” This report, writes de Souza, “is a call to action to all politicians and policymakers in this general election year: listen to children and act on what they are telling you.”

A manifesto for children! Big votes for eliminating all bedtimes and free pick ’n’ mix! Except actually, the ambitions of the children in the research are modest and reasonable: an end to child poverty, proper support in schools, fairness for foster children and places to play in. These are not radical flights of juvenile whimsy. They’re the kind of things that a country with any interest in its young people should be investing in anyway.

“These are not radical flights of juvenile whimsy.”

That this is not a country with a great deal of interest in its young people is hardly worth pointing out by now. Over the past week, the news cycle has been dominated by stories that are effectively about old people retaining their perks. First, there were the “WASPi women”, who claim to have been unfairly caught in the Government’s plan to equalise the state pension age, so that rather than collecting their pension at 60, women collect it at 66 alongside men.

It’s very hard to mount an argument against this in principle, given that it effectively eliminates a residual perversity in the system from the days when female wage earning was seen as an eccentricity. Yet the parliamentary ombudsman found that the DWP had failed to adequately inform the affected women, and should pay compensation of between £1,000 and £2,950 per person; campaigners had been asking for an eye-watering £10,000 each.

That strikes me as inordinately entitled — and so far, the DWP is declining to pay up — but pensioners are used to being indulged. As this story was being debated, chancellor Jeremy Hunt confirmed that the retention of the pension triple-lock would be a Tory manifesto commitment — meaning that the Government will raise publicly funded pensions annually by whichever is highest out of average wage growth, inflation or 2.5%.

It’s an astonishingly generous settlement, unmatched in any other area of public spending, and one that has proved immune to austerity economics. The reason for this is straightforward: older people get what they want because there are a lot of older people and they tend to vote. No one ever lost an election pandering to the grey vote. All noises from Labour suggest that they have no intention of rescinding it.

Meanwhile, the generation whose hopes and dreams are captured in the Children’s Commissioner’s report have the privilege of being taught in schools that are literally falling apart, while the £4 billion hole in council funding means ambitions of safe, open spaces to hang out and play are unlikely to be realised. The more complex recommendations in the report around foster care and prevention models for young offending are hopelessly remote.

These terrible facts of national life can seem too entrenched to even think about changing. And yet, as the report points out, these young people know from their experience of lockdown that governments are capable of sweeping — and effective — action. At the same time, lockdown may also have taught them that these powers are highly unlikely to be exercised in their favour.

The errors of the pandemic years must be forgivable given the number of unknowns and the huge risks that insufficient caution might have had, but it seems obvious now that closing the schools was a terrible overstep. That decision cut children off from their education. For many of those who were unhappy at school already or suffering from a chaotic or dangerous home, it denied them an academic future, let alone an escape.

In short, these children have paid a high price in order to protect older people from Covid, and are going to be asked to pay a high price again when they enter employment, at which point they will likely be working to fund a standard of living for pensioners that they will never be offered. Why won’t they be offered it? Because while the UK is in a slightly more robust place than Japan demographically, a birth rate of 1:49 means we are still facing the future with an ageing population. Eventually, economic logic dictates that old-age perks will become unsustainable.

The tragedy of all this isn’t hard to glean. A society that relies on young people should treat them well. Even if children aren’t quite as scarce and precious a resource as toddler Kuranosuke is in Ichinono, they are still too valuable to be taken for granted. Their taxes will keep the welfare state creaking along; their hands will perform the care that older people inevitably need. But the rewards they will receive for that are highly uncertain.

So, at the very least, they should be listened to now — if not exactly worshipped. For the older villagers of Ichinono, the tributes they pay to their child king are an act of hope: a promise that perhaps their village won’t die and leave them forgotten. Similarly, a more generous attitude to our own young people would show that this country has a future. The alternative option of elders hoarding their wealth and political interest would send the exact opposite message, and tell children they have nothing to look forward to but their own decline. There could be no surer way to break down the generational contract holding society together than that.


Sarah Ditum is a columnist, critic and feature writer.

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J Bryant
J Bryant
3 months ago

As we read so often on Unherd, the West’s solution to an ageing population, and the care they will require, is unrestricted immigration. So long as that continues, there is little incentive to prioritize the UK’s native-born young people.
Moreover, most UK kids are white (for the time being), and it is de rigeur to disparage them and place their interests behind those of non-white, illegal immigrants.

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

Apart from Hungary which promotes domestic birth rates instead of immigration. But apparently that’s just another bad and nasty policy from that bad man Orban.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago

Is the Hungarian approach working? Have birth rates increased?

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith
3 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

Yes they have risen but are still well below replacement.

Katharine Eyre
Katharine Eyre
3 months ago
Reply to  Adrian Smith

Hungary also has the problem that a lot of natives still leave the country to work elsewhere. So it’s not just a birthrate problem, it’s about making Hungary attractive enough as a place to live that those babies want to stick around when they are adults.

S D
S D
3 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

https://ifstudies.org/blog/is-hungary-experiencing-a-policy-induced-baby-boom
Interesting, looks like they’ve made some progress

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  S D

Interesting that cultural aspects seem to be having an effect, not just tax and other similar policies.

I remember reading an article by a Hungarian feminist criticising the measures being introduced as treating women as «baby making machines». Perhaps replacing such attitudes with a positive view of children and mothers could help here too. But which political party has the nerve?

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

This probably true but ot does mean that our settlement between old and young is anything but unfair.

Arthur King
Arthur King
3 months ago
Reply to  J Bryant

And we naturally see white kids moving right and far right.

Caty Gonzales
Caty Gonzales
3 months ago

Isn’t it odd how we seem to worship the idea of youth and seek to hold on to it, through our dress, behavior and often through surgery, yet as a society we seem to intensely dislike actual children?

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  Caty Gonzales

Perhaps it’s not so odd. Perhaps our own infantilism prevents us taking the adult role that we should. We envy the young rather than supporting them.

Andrew R
Andrew R
3 months ago

No problem we’ll just keep importing 3 million people per decade, every decade. Sorted

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew R

You maybe corrected, but I suspect that will ultimately result in ‘son of Hitler’ emerging, and a run on Zyclon B.

Ben Hopkins
Ben Hopkins
3 months ago

Interesting that, you cite ‘raising the female pension age’ as an example of the old hanging on to their benefits at the expense of the young. I’ve got three kids under 8, and what they need most is TIME. My time, my wife’s time and their grandparents’ time. Our relentlessly growth-focused economy already makes it very difficult for parents to give time to their kids. But at least there are (or were…) grandmothers.

A lower pension age for women at least makes grandparenting less of a financial sacrifice and means that kids are more likely to be looked after by a loving grandmother than a paid care worker.

I also remember a pretty heartbreaking conversation I had with a cleaner at a school where I used to teach. She was one of those who always expected to retire at 60 and talking about the changes brought her to tears. For women in physically demanding jobs like cleaning, going on until 66 may literally kill them. Spare a thought for those women too.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hopkins

Had the UK government kept the female retirement age at 60, then all of the UK’s biological males would self-ID as female at the age of 59.

Stephen Walsh
Stephen Walsh
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hopkins

Many (or more) older men are in physically demanding jobs too. A better solution would be to give grandmothers and other family carers access to the childcare subsidies currently directed only to registered nurseries.

Alan Bright
Alan Bright
3 months ago
Reply to  Stephen Walsh

And “other family carers” should include parents. In fact, simpler just to increase child benefit so parents could choose whom they outsource childcare to. They could even use it to subsidise parental child care.

P N
P N
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hopkins

Our economy is anything but “relentlessly growth-focused”. If it were, you might be able to afford to retire and live off your own earnings instead of having to wait to live off the earnings of others.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  P N

It’s growth focussed. It just isn’t working.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hopkins

If your cleaner was not due to receive her state pension until age 66 (like Mrs U, as it happens), then she had at least 28 years to prepare. Can’t get too upset on her behalf.

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
3 months ago

Come on Dougie, do you really think a woman can save for her retirement on a minimum wage job?? And especially if she’s one of the type of women we’re supposed to be encouraging to have lots of kids, she’ll be looking after grandkids and spending some of her wages on them……

D M
D M
3 months ago
Reply to  Ben Hopkins

Good point well made, when I worked and lived in Singapore c1998-2003 there were income tax breaks for locals that lived within a certain close distance of their parents & grandparents (i.e. to provide family support) and further generous tax breaks for multi generational households, simple, low cost Incentives to avoid the kind of care home cluster f**k that passes for elderly care in the UK. Don’t expect to see it happening here anytime soon….

Robbie K
Robbie K
3 months ago

If children hadn’t been locked down then thousands more people would have died from covid. How can anyone expect people to sacrifice their lives or the ones they love so that some kids didn’t miss a few months at school?

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You don’t know very much.

Robbie K
Robbie K
3 months ago
Reply to  UnHerd Reader

I’m sure you will explain how this is incorrect.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You made the assertion, the burden of proof is on you.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

In NYC, public schools were locked, not private or religious schools. There was no difference in cases, hospitalizations or deaths of students or their families.
You can also look up the results in Sweden, where they never shut down the elementary schools.

John Galt Was Correct
John Galt Was Correct
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

I’m honestly unsure if this is irony. It reads like the lobotomised self-entitled loons in the Daily Mail who were demanding all children be forcibly vaccinated against something that the vast majority of them aren’t at risk from, to protect them from a virus that wasn’t prevented from being spread by the vaccines. People lament the ‘lack of respect’ that the young have for the old(er) but it is hardly a surprise.

Robbie K
Robbie K
3 months ago

This isn’t about vaccines. I’m uncertain why folks find this difficult to understand. Lockdowns impede the spread of disease, if you don’t lockdown then it spreads, then people die. That hasn’t changed since the beginning of humanity, it’s been understood for thousands of years.

Arthur King
Arthur King
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Other people died due to lockdowns. Other people are dying due to the economic fall out. Seniors have lived their lives and therefore are a lower priority. That includes my mom and dad … and my old fat butt. But hey … I’m old fashioned.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

You mean when we sabotaged the economy and mental health of the nation, amongst other things, to try and stop old people from dying?

Robbie K
Robbie K
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Did you not have parents, grandparents or even a spouse that you wanted to protect? Or is just other people’s loved ones that don’t appear to matter?

Alison Wren
Alison Wren
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Vulnerable people should have been protected in their homes, everyone else should have treated it like it was a bad flu. And schools should never have closed, so many ongoing issues have arisen from that awful decision. Fear was induced in the population, and not an iota of education about the necessity of boosting vitamin D and other low cost products, just the vaccinations. Scientists silenced, no attention paid to natural immunity leaving aside adverse reactions to the vaccine…….

Robbie K
Robbie K
3 months ago
Reply to  Alison Wren

Vulnerable people make up a third of the population, many of them live with children. The reality is therefor way more complex, but I guess you actually know this.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Already lost mine to old age and cancer, you know those other things that old people die from. One inescapable fact is that people die and if they don’t, then we need to worry.

Robbie K
Robbie K
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

We’ll agree on that. I do however possess a very fine axe if I get surrounded.

Alan Bright
Alan Bright
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

A lockdown at the next pandemic? #notinmyname. Send in the grandchildren; I would rather die hugging them than increase my chances of living into extreme old age and all the problems associated with that.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Old people inevitably die. What we did was prevent them from dying quite as soon. What this meant was that some of them lived extra months in isolation, with all sorts of effects in terms of mental decline.

An aunt of mine was taken by the first wave. She was suffering dementia. My mother survived three episodes of Covid, one without a vaccination, but the isolation and poor treatment destroyed her. Had she died a few years earlier her life would have been a happy one. As it was she suffered misery and decline.

Arthur King
Arthur King
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Frail seniors often die of flu. It would have been better for our civilizations future if we had prioritized our children over seniors.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Just like taking the vaccine means not getting the virus? Which later became a claim that getting the jab would make one’s case less severe.

P N
P N
3 months ago
Reply to  Robbie K

Locking down the economy cost lives as well.

Simon James
Simon James
3 months ago

There seems to be a glut of articles making this point now but it’s too late. Once your birth rate dips below replacement and then stays there you have effectively declared your indifference to the fate of the most vulnerable minority group in every society. How anyone has the chutzpah to prescribe DEI training as the solution to society’s ills while birth rate declines is beyond mind boggling.

Peter Principle
Peter Principle
3 months ago

“Its lead finding is that children don’t feel listened to”
When I was young, the adults used to say “children should be seen, but not heard”. It never did us any harm, as the saying goes.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
3 months ago

My job involves listening to the voice of the child and I’ve yet to hear one cite an end to childhood poverty. I’ve heard them wanting the legalisation of cannabis and they think that once they turn 16 they can do as they please, apparently we age into freedoms! Who knew!
The problem for kids today is twofold, too much power and too little responsibility.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

Is that a representative sample of children though?

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
3 months ago
Reply to  David Morley

True, although looked after children are probably the only children the state has to listen to by law.
My experience also shows that where children really want to be listened to is their inane normal chatter, rather than their demands. I’m a firm believer that giving them normalcy is the key. Too many children are being spoilt (materially) as a response to neglect (emotional and physical). This goes for normal households too; too much guilt from busy parents trying to make up for always being too busy.

Paul T
Paul T
3 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay S

As a former looked after child I can assure you that the listening is fake; they immediately discount your suggestion of what would be best since they know what is best even if you set out exactly the time-line of your subsequently-proven-to-be completely accurate prediction.

Lindsay S
Lindsay S
3 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Is the listening fake or do they just disagree with your suggestion? Listening doesn’t necessarily mean to enact. If it conflicts with safeguarding then they will certainly not enact. Doesn’t mean they didn’t listen.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 months ago

This was stupid then and is stupid now.

It doesn’t mean we should accept the wishes of children and young people but that we should start taking them seriously (particularly young adults).

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

Like the young adults on college campuses who act as if the entirety of the west is a hellscape to be eradicated from the Earth? No, thanks; I’ll listen when they have something useful to say instead of repeating the nonsense that was taught by the adults who failed the young.

Milton Gibbon
Milton Gibbon
3 months ago

Assuming that before the ’60s we didn’t listen to children at all wouldn’t the take be that actually we have been listening to them too much? Look at the causes promoted in schools and by the culture to see why children are hopeless. Eco-extremism, BLM and the welfare state ( which includes the NHS) all set impossible goals and then decry the failure to achieve them with the end result being that whatever side of the fence they are on they are either angry or upset.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago

They’re the kind of things that a country with any interest in its young people should be investing in anyway.

This is the key point. We should know this stuff without having to be told. But lots of brits don’t have kids. Lots of those who do, care about their own kids but not British kids in general. Lots don’t like kids. And many of the rest put their own interests first.

We have few family friendly policies, in spite of population decline, only praise families when they are not traditional nuclear families, and scream blue murder if the speed limit is lowered on residential streets to make them safer. Bluntly, we are a very selfish, very self centred people who care little about our heritage from the past, and less about our heritage for the future.

j watson
j watson
3 months ago

One strongly suspects the average demographic of Unherd subscribers more towards the older cohorts and thus susceptible to theories and claims that place the problem onto others – the young themselves, immigrants, woke-ists etc etc, rather than our own generation(s) and the policies and benefits we’ve ratcheted in to how society works. We should ponder that and try harder to see this through a different prism much as the Author suggests.

Andrew R
Andrew R
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Mate, you’re the one projecting.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

I think you are right, at least in part. There’s little point in blaming the generation that we, as parents, teachers, politicians etc, raised.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 months ago
Reply to  j watson

Quite so. Young people have been badly treated for some time

Albireo Double
Albireo Double
3 months ago

Having children is one thing, but we have lost the skills of bringing them up.

Children now appear to be shoved in front of a screen to entertain themselves on God knows what, or spoiled and indulged and shown no discipline or boundaries, and inculcated with left wing ideological claptrap in their schools.

Most people would say that those who cannot raise children should not have them. Why should we not take that view societally? If we can’t raise children then we should have none and our society should accept the inevitable consequences of that.

Andrew Horsman
Andrew Horsman
3 months ago

“The errors of the pandemic years must be forgivable given the number of unknowns and the huge risks that insufficient caution might have had …”

I’m absolutely sick and tired of this trope. “But we didn’t know”. We did very much know. The evidence was there for all to see. Why was it, do you think, that in March 2020 Public Health England REMOVED Covid-19 from its list of high consequence infectious diseases a week before “lockdowns” were imposed to contain this supposedly deadly threat? Why didn’t many of the thousands of mostly elderly and (obviously) “unvaccinated” people become seriously ill or die after being exposed to the deadly bug after being trapped with Covid-sufferers in the floating Petri dish that was the Diamond Princess? And why did the WHO’s communist power-grabbing Director General deliberately conflate the case fatality rate with the (much lower) infection fatality rate? Was it because he wanted to frighten the life out of people? And why did our so-called political and medical trust him and his globalist-collectivist cronies when the clinical evidence was clear for them to see that no extraordinary “all of society” measures were needed? Was it fear, cowardice, or groupthink; or were they actually themselves gulled by the communist lies, deceit begetting self-deceit begetting more deceit?

And never ever let anyone forget that the cowards nominally in charge our country opened up poorly ventilated indoor bookies’ shops frequented by the very demographic most at risk of viral phenomena in the first week of May 2020 while OUTDOOR kids playgrounds remained taped up for weeks on end afterwards. Evidence if you ever needed it that a handful of political party donors are indeed more important “stakeholders” (as they like to call them) than millions of innocent children. Has anyone even attempted to hold them to account for that? No, because they also closed down parliament and refused to allow debate on measures with general effect passed through gross abuses of the Public Health Act in order that they wouldn’t be held to proper account by the more demanding provisions of the very long and detailed piece legislation they had somehow magicked up from no-where and banged through parliament in a panic only a couple of months or so previously.

Even if you give our so-called leaders a free pass for the March and April of 2020, conceding that the deployment of military grade psychological manipulation combined with the madness of a crowd baying for “safety” is going to have an impact on the most robust and courageous critical thinker in what we used to think of as high political office how on earth do you, Sarah Ditum, explain the appalling behaviour of the political and medical elites in the winter of 2020/21? By then they had more than enough empirical evidence that lockdowns, and all the rest of the madness (remember the murderous ventilators and “do not resuscitate” policies?), didn’t work and did more harm than good. Sweden etc. But of course by then the extraordinary popular delusion had spread like black fungus and it did not matter what the actual effects of the policy were – the mob demanded more action to keep them safe. And our panicking politicians had been conned into pishing billions up the wall on novel pharmaceutical products that simply couldn’t be allowed to go to waste. Anyone who dared question them was castigated as a modern-day witch, a conspiracy theorist, a “Covid-denier” and threatened with social and economic destitution for being an isolated voice of sanity in the crowd, or in some cases simply asserting the basic right to boldly autonomy. People in authority, all across society, simply stopped listening to dissenting voices and powered ahead with promulgating and implementing policies that harmed, and continue to harm, tens of millions of people, their self-deluded consciences clean because they were convinced they were doing it all for the greater good.

So no, we must not forgive the errors of the mad years, and the wasting of £400 billion of public money. (This would be enough, incidentally, to gift every single of the 2.6 million waspi woman the truly eye-watering sum of £150,000 each; or perhaps more productively giving a grant of over £12 million to EVERY SINGLE SCHOOL in the UK.) At least not until those responsible find the humility and the courage to ask for forgiveness for the monumental social, economic, political, and moral catastrophe to which their fear, cowardice, and groupthinking blindness gave rise and an actual adult attempt to learn the lessons is made.

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Thank you so much for that heart felt rant.

To be fair Lord Jonathan Sumption KS, and Sir Desmond Swayne MP did speak out against this madness, but to no avail.

However the British people themselves must bear most of the responsibility for this appalling fiasco. A more supine, sentimental, ill educated bunch of ‘gobshites’*would be hard to imagine, and in this little world of ours we get the very venal politicians and hysterical medicos that we SO richly deserve.

For myself I am looking forward to the NEXT one, if only to see if the moribund corpse of the once great British people can be resuscitated? I expect to be disappointed.

(*An apposite Irish ‘technical’ term.)

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
3 months ago

Yes. If it were just the politicians and media, we might be able to fix things.

Richard Hopkins
Richard Hopkins
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Dalton

Politicians like these?

‘Lord Falconer Apologises for Calling Covid a “gift” for Lawyers’

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-55970601

Simon Templar
Simon Templar
3 months ago

Heartily agree except to add that Britain at least discussed the alternatives before jumping off the cliff of full lockdown insanity whereas the USA had the NIH and Anthony Fauci driving it from the beginning, which means the Pentagon were always on board. Dissent or mere curiosity was marginalized from the start.
The USA caused the pandemic. They own it. The Pentagon, via Fauci and NIH funded the gain-of-function work on bats at Wuhan. Then the accident happened. Whoops. Fauci lied about the origins, with full-on cover up from the deep state. Then having caused the exposure, the NIH and CDC leveraged it into a full-blown catastrophe so that they could vaccinate everybody and turn the entire human race into experimental slaves of Big Pharma.
We are very very far from done with justice on this one. Will Trump or RFK Jr be allowed to do anything about it? You can understand the fever level of intensity in the US election right now. But there is still hope for truth and restoration.

Andrew Dalton
Andrew Dalton
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

And never ever let anyone forget that the cowards nominally in charge our country opened up poorly ventilated indoor bookies’ shops frequented by the very demographic most at risk of viral phenomena in the first week of May 2020 while OUTDOOR kids playgrounds remained taped up for weeks on end afterwards. Evidence if you ever needed it that a handful of political party donors are indeed more important “stakeholders” (as they like to call them) than millions of innocent children. Has anyone even attempted to hold them to account for that?

I actually thought I knew all the ridiculous things government did during that time. I now realise how wrong I was. I guess the enquiry* will ignore it.
*intended

Geraldine Kelley
Geraldine Kelley
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Thank you for taking the trouble to give us the reality of the Covid debacle. We knew from April 20 what was really going on!

Graham Stull
Graham Stull
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

You beat me to it with this excellent rant.

D M
D M
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Might be early days, but for my money – Unherd comment of the year 2024….Harsh but true..

Marcus Corbett
Marcus Corbett
3 months ago
Reply to  Andrew Horsman

Yes, yes and yes

Charles Stanhope
Charles Stanhope
3 months ago

What is going on?:-

SORRY, REPLIES TO UNAPPROVED COMMENTS ARE NOT ALLOWED.*

(Attempt to reply to Robbie K’s ludicrous comment below.)

Edward H
Edward H
3 months ago

It comes back to housing, again.
I’ll take any bet that says that if houses were affordable we’d see people creating families much younger, and having larger ones. The high cost of housing makes children a luxury many cannot afford until their careers are well advanced.
Then in time we would no longer need the high levels of inward migration to support the pensions of the elderly who dislike the migration in the first place.
But the elderly are most likely to be on the picket line or the council meetings objecting to every proposal to build houses in their area.

David Morley
David Morley
3 months ago
Reply to  Edward H

And any proposal which had the effect of reducing house prices nationally would be equally resisted. And anybody who proposed it, unelectable.

P N
P N
3 months ago
Reply to  Edward H

House prices are the product of cheap money more than any other factor.

laurence scaduto
laurence scaduto
3 months ago
Reply to  P N

Agreed. The excessive demand is for investment opportunities, not for homes to raise a family in. As long as money is cheap and mortgages are easy, no amount of building will push the prices down.

Jürg Gassmann
Jürg Gassmann
3 months ago

The errors of the pandemic years must be forgivable given the number of unknowns and the huge risks that insufficient caution might have had,

No. The “errors” of the “pandemic years” were born of hysteria, group-think, rejection of science, and an eagerness to test the limits of the State’s ability to wage psychological war on its own population.
The sensible way to approach pandemics was laid out in a September 2019 handbook issued by the WHO; it is still accessible online. Every single one of the WHO’s recommendations were thrown over board, every single measure where the WHO said “we’ve tried this, we know it doesn’t work” were indeed implemented.
A serious reckoning is required.

Jonathan Andrews
Jonathan Andrews
3 months ago

Absolutely. I don’t like the thought of not being pandered to, I don’t like the thought of my home losing value, I don’t like the thought of having a less generous pension but I cannot, in good conscience, support the idea of the triple lock and of resources being directed away from young working families to support me in my, fast approaching, dotage.

Alex Lekas
Alex Lekas
3 months ago

My, my, have things turned. As we emerge from the previous avalanche of “the world has too many people” stories, we are now being buried under their polar opposite. The common bond is that each option represents a crisis situation and we know too well that crises cannot be wasted.
Also, before the errors of Covid can be “forgivable,” they must be acknowledged by those who made and continued making them despite the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Without contrition, there cannot be forgiveness. That period put in place societal changes that will take decades to undo, if then and if undoing them is beneficial.

Dougie Undersub
Dougie Undersub
3 months ago

It’s not a failure to listen to children that’s the problem, it’s failures of parenting. Don’t look to the state for the answer, look to parents and wider families.
Yes, the state could be more supportive of families but that’s at the margins. The solution lies with us.

Mark epperson
Mark epperson
3 months ago

Sarah, welcome to the world of greedy geezers. And I count the Federal Government in the US in that category. Also, you can throw in the politicians, finance dude and dudettes, every tech company, education administrators, and senior bureaucrats. They may not be geezers yet, but they are certainly the most greedy and controlling folks in human history.
The Feds saw how much money they could make backing college loans and the extra added attraction of the “kids or their families” unable to shed them in bankruptcy. The result was tuition skyrocketing at all schools, Professors giving way to TA’s so they could “publish”. Now we have had a whole generation of “indentured servants” who have to choose between a car, eating, and a decent place to rent or own. Parents who signed on in the early stages and then went through the debacle of 2008 are now having student loans taken out of their social security because they can’t afford to pay them. I spent 12 years paying off my kid’s loans.
I am a geezer and if I was 18 to 30 I would be at the barricades protesting the greed that has condemned so many younger folks to a life of lower pay, less security, and gig jobs. My generation, the boomers, and a good percentage of the X’ers are to blame.
Stop buying their bullshit and their products and if the majority of people, just not young folks did this, the “elites” empire would fail fairly quickly. Sarah, it is your choice.

Alex Stonor
Alex Stonor
3 months ago

I describe this country as, generally speaking, childist. It was bad enough pre-safeguarding, but it’s worse now in other ways. From primary school upwards, schools are more regulated and controlling environments, with the intention of safeguarding all, while letting down most. Educational institutions are biased in favour of academic success which is stifling of creativity and undervalues vocational abilities. Every aspect of state provision for children is underfunded; it sometimes feel that children don’t matter. I read stuff in the media about how children and young people are mined for their face value ( Childcare costs, tuition fees and the theft of future wealth), and they don’t get much in return. No wonder the birth rate is falling in this country too.

Neiltoo .
Neiltoo .
3 months ago

“ Yet the parliamentary ombudsman found that the DWP had failed to adequately inform the affected women”

It seems that plenty of women were well informed, perhaps those that missed out couldn’t be bothered to find out what the changes meant for them.

Pip G
Pip G
3 months ago

Pension age people have the advantage of having lived in better times, when value was placed on family, community & society; when education was prized and employment secure; when there was no ‘social media’ and insane minority views were derided rather than promoted.
I feel very sorry for young people. Tomorrow I am seeing my youngest grandson aged 18 yo. I am amazed at his good sense and maturity. All we can do is give them time and encouragement.

UnHerd Reader
UnHerd Reader
3 months ago

I’m sorry, did I miss something here? I’m still trying to find out what native demographic all this respect and input is given to in this country and all I can come up with is militant ropers and illegal gimmigrants.
I think it’s about time all of the people in this country stopped being victims of divide and rule and got together to put a stop to this global nonsense!

John Riordan
John Riordan
3 months ago

I am already sympathetic to the generational injustice described above. I’ve been saying for years now that we cannot expect young people forever to put up with astronomical property prices, declining career prospects and stagnant wages. If we don’t do something about this triple-whammy, eventually everyone with a house and a pension will just get punitively taxed.

But there’s this:
” I thought about Kuranosuke while I was reading “The Big Ambition”, a new report by the Children’s Commissioner for England, Dame Rachel D’Souza. Its lead finding is that children don’t feel listened to: “Just one in five children in England believe their views are important to the adults who run the country, while only 10% of teenagers believe they have the power to influence the issues they care about.” ”

Younger generations have always tended to have less conservative views, but these days people under 25 appear to believe such a load of crap that it is impossible to take them seriously. I mean come on, am I supposed to treat someone as sane who thinks a man can become a woman, or that white people are inherently racist and can only be civilised by a brute-force ideology in which they are expected to admit to inherited guilt?

I’m not saying this absolves me of any requirement to be sympathetic to the plight of many young people now who deserve a better go at life than they’re getting, but I have to wonder how well-equipped some of them are to make a go of it even if things were easier.

Or perhaps what’s really going on is that when you have no prospects, luxury politics can no longer damage them. Is that it?

Marcus Corbett
Marcus Corbett
3 months ago

“The errors of the pandemic years must be forgivable given the number of unknowns and the huge risks that insufficient caution might have had..”
Pls see the “Diamond Princess”.
This article seems to hide perhaps the author’s own complicity in the most irrational of public policies ever inflicted on citizens.
The evidence provided by the doomed ship that in fabulous drama could find no dock was a wonderful petrie dish. A ‘control’ in the laboratory of sorts. Not perfect but damn good and every person with a functioning brain could determine the future more or less. We already knew by Feb 2020 that the young had more chance of drowning in a puddle than from Covid.
This article is not merely disingenuous it is dishonest and written by someone afraid to disavow his previous ignorance.
Lest the author forgets there had been a 10 yr research project on dealing with a pandemic of far greater danger than Covid (the latter presented no danger to the human race). The conclusion was that lockdowns were absurd given the consequences.
One should read no further than the quoted words.