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Young Brits want spending cuts, not tax hikes

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Paul Hackett / Reuters / File

(Read caption) A young woman takes part in the annual Notting Hill Carnival street party in London, on August 30. In a recent poll, British youth chose spending cuts over taxes. Does that indicate genuine frugality or just an antipathy to seeing their paychecks shrink?

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It is reassuring to see that the “new” generation has got a good grasp on the economic path that needs to be taken if the UK is to reverse its national debt. I'm not talking about Ed Miliband's new shadow cabinet, but the 18-24 year olds polled by Radio 1 about how they, the “new” generation, felt about the imminent cuts.

The poll showed that 62% of 18-24 year olds believe that cuts are necessary, and when asked whether they would prefer cuts or tax hike, 76% went with cuts. This shows that the proposals outlined by Lord Browne yesterday, in regards to University funding, should be welcomed by students above the previously muted graduate tax – what's good for the goose is good for the gander. It also gives the lie to the idea that young people are generally left-wing. Just because "student leaders" are loudly Marxist doesn't mean that the people they claim to represent are – most are elected with very low participation by an active minority, with the majority of students staying far away from the process. As in many groups of people, there is a silent majority of the young who simply want to be left alone to live their lives as they wish.

It is not just this younger generation, who arguably may not feel the full impact of the proposed cuts, who believe the coalitions cuts are necessary. A recent ICM poll showed that a majority of voters support axing child benefit for high earners. The same survey indicates that people would rather see cuts in welfare than in defence or education.

It appears that these recent polls show a swing towards rationality, particularly where cuts are involved. We cannot continue to live either, individually or as a nation on credit. Both individuals and the government have to take responsibility for their past actions; only when we acknowledge the problem can it start to be fixed. I'm glad that so many others agree.

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