Poll: Young people appear more tolerant, open and happy with modern Britain

A recent survey by YouGov, for Business for New Europe, indicates that teenagers have markedly more positive views towards Europe and the free movement of labour than adults. This should encourage those who appreciate the economic advantages of an outward-facing UK. It could also fuel calls for 16 and 17 year-olds to be included in any forthcoming referendum on the EU.

The poll, based on the views of young people aged between 14 and 17 years old, showed:

  • If there was a referendum, approximately twice as many of those aged 14 to 17 would vote to stay in the EU (45%) as leave (23%). This compares with 38% of adults preferring to stay in, and 41% preferring to leave.
  • There was a divide within the 14-to-17 age group, with 33% of younger respondents aged 14 and 15 saying they did not know how they would vote on EU membership. Slightly older respondents aged 16 and 17 were more engaged, with only 15% saying they didn’t know. The older respondents were also more in favour of EU membership, with 56% saying they would vote in favour and 20% against, compared with figures for the younger group of 34% in favour and 26% against.
  • More young people believe that Britain would be worse off economically if it left the EU (36%) than better off (22%).
  • The young people were more likely to say that immigrants contribute positively to Britain’s way of life. In the poll, 51% said they contribute positively, compared with 29% who said they do not. This compares with 39% of adults saying they contribute positively, and 44% saying they do not.
  • The teenagers surveyed were more likely than adults to support the right of people to live and work wherever they want in the EU. The research found that 47% said they supported this right, with just 28% opposed. This compares with 44% of adults supporting and 42% opposing.

* Paul Walter is a Liberal Democrat activist. He is one of the Liberal Democrat Voice team. He blogs at Liberal Burblings.

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15 Comments

  • The only really relevant comparison is between generations, hence what we should be looking at is say the difference between Swampy’s generation at 14~17 and the current generation. Likewise we should be taking Swampy’s generation and seeing how their views have changed and matured over the decades; as they’ve gained more experience of life. (Perhaps YouGov should taken a little more time and broken ‘Adults’ down into generational age bands.)

    Also the YouGov does contain some telling nuggets, for example remembering back to the 80’s and Swampy, I found it interesting just how low down the list of issues that would matter most “The environment/climate change” was, although “Education” was as expected near the top as the second most important issue to this age group.

  • Simple they know nothing else an the beer an vodka flows

  • Yes, if someone disagrees with you, just use ageism – because it is clearly such a compelling point. It could never be that younger people are generally more used to and directly affected by multiculturalism, so naturally have a far more outward facing viewpoint. No, they must all just be too young and dumb to know what is good for them. Best let their elders tell them what is good for them.

  • Liberal Al – “Yes, if someone disagrees with you, just use ageism”

    An interesting point, as that is in some ways effectively what Paul is doing! but not in the generally accepted way. Paul is effectively saying that because adults in general disagree with the viewpoint being put forward it can be put aside (or mitigated?) as the opinions of the 14~17 age group in this respect are more important…

  • Interesting but 14 year olds are not yet scheduled to get the vote although no doubt that will soon be on the agenda when 16 year olds are enfranchised. There is a lot to be said for having some experience of adult life before having to make big decisions. Most young people are rightly sheltered from that by their parents and generally know mostly about school and what they are taught there which is not always either relevant or realistic. They should be allowed to enjoy their childhood as it does not last long and they will have to face adult cares and responsibilities soon enough. Why burden them before it is necessary ?

  • Not sure here but open happy and tolerant young people is fantastic is that not a characteristic we would like for our young people. Does it mean that as we get older we just get used to the fact what we are told on the news is a really small part of life.

    Example 20% are very unhappy about this why not 80% think this works well. In a life where people think a friend or like on Facebook Twitter matters will it be that real friends who support help and care later in life mean they had different values

  • Tony Rowan-Wicks 11th Dec '14 - 12:05pm

    The survey’s results show what we already know – that younger people are more open to the age they live in whilst older people tend to be more fixed in opinion and looking to the past. Nothing surprising here. But will the older generations listen to the modern ways and learn? At a guess – UKIP and Tories represent more of the older generational attitudes.

  • “Best let their elders tell them what is good for them.”

    They will learn the consequences of unlimited immigration, if it continues at its current rate.

    England will be a white English minority nation unrecognisable to its current form, by the time they reach retirement. (Scotland and Wales is less certain).

    It will be for them to decide whether it is better or worse. You and I won’t be around any longer.

    But we will have bequeathed it to them. Will they thank us or curse us?

    Or rather will they thank you or curse you?

  • “white English minority”

    Hail the superior race, and all that.

    Considering that any children I have are not going to be fully white or English, I do not think they will care much.

    PS So, wait, Wales and Scotland are going to majority White English settlements? I think the Walsh and Scottish may have something to say about that.

  • “An interesting point, as that is in some ways effectively what Paul is doing! but not in the generally accepted way. Paul is effectively saying that because adults in general disagree with the viewpoint being put forward it can be put aside (or mitigated?) as the opinions of the 14~17 age group in this respect are more important…”

    @Roland, let us say that Paul is being ageist: how does that justify you being ageist again?

    However, that is even if you take your assertion as correct: which is rather debatable, considering that Paul never once ever came close to saying that anything about putting aside anyone’s view, this seems to be a baseless deflection on your part.

    What Paul said is that if you take the statistics and compare them, it is clear that people aged 16-17 take a more positive view towards immigration than those over a certain age. He then said that he thinks their viewpoint is a positive thing.

    This is markedly different to what you said, which is that because of their age, their opinions must be invalid. (There is a big difference between agreeing with one group over another, and saying that one group’s opinion is invalid because of a protected characteristic.)

  • @Liberal Al – I do agree on their own the poll results are interesting and as I pointed out they do contain some nuggets, it is just unfortunate that Paul included in his article the statement “It could also fuel calls for 16 and 17 year-olds to be included in any forthcoming referendum on the EU.” which immediately shows an agenda item; which has parallels to New Labour’s idea that immigrants were more likely to vote Labour…

    I could suggest that another reason for extending the vote to 16~17 year-olds is that they would be more predisposed to the slashing of pensions – only 4% expressed pensions as being an important issue…

  • Fair enough, on that front, I can agree with you, Roland, that this is not a reason to extend voting rights to 16 to 17 years; however, nor is it a reason to restrict their voting rights. I would say that saying this either shows they are mature or not mature enough to vote puts too much of a value judgement on what the ‘right’ way to vote is.

  • Liberal Al – I agree, the real issue with extending voting to 16 say, is determining maturity and so having the capacity to understand and live with the implications of their vote, which as you say is to some extent a value judgement.

  • Ed Shepherd 13th Dec '14 - 9:39am

    16-17 year olds can read newspapers and books or watch documentaries or listen to the news just the same as older people. They are no more and no less likey to be informed about current political issues than older people. In my experience, they are often more interested in politics than are older people. Let them vote.

  • Ed Shepherd 13th Dec ’14 – 9:39am

    Yes I agree —
    16-17 year olds are no less likey to be informed about political issues than older people.

    Having seen Brand and Farage on Question Time, maybe we should give the vote to teenagers and then take it away again as soon as they reach the age of 20.

    The level of maturity displayed by these two parody politicians seems to indicate that older people cannot be trusted with the vote.

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