From the coffee bars of Camden to the gin joints of Norfolk – across Britain, a revolution is brewing. And no, it’s not John McDonnell’s bitter socialist hooch. It’s a generation growing up with an entirely different view of the world – free thinking, optimistic and hungry for success.
The under-30 are the risk-takers, inventors and free-thinkers, with unprecedented freedom to start a business, broadcast their views to the world, or travel anywhere they like at the push of a button.
Far from the hat-wearing, big-state-loving Marxists often portrayed in the media, they are the most freedom-loving, enterprising generation ever. And through their businesses, campaigns, vlogs, they are changing attitudes and industries – in big and small ways – day in, day out.
That’s possible because we live in a society that has cherished and encouraged personal freedom, and put the individual before the state while making sure the least well-off always have a safety net.
But those ideas are more threatened than they ever have been. Not by some encroaching overseas menace – but by a UK party that wants to be in government.
Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell have made no secret of their desire to stamp out individualism and enterprise. They call businesses the “real enemy”. Their supporters hound dissenters and label them “traitors”. And they openly call for Government to take more control over the economy and our lives.
We can already see their controlling ways in councils across the country: anyone sensible abused until they’re booted out or quit, services like Airbnb and Uber banned, new schemes dreamt up for hiking tax.
This assault on freedom wouldn’t just damage the economy, it would erode the economic freedoms which give power to the people. The free market is fundamentally humane and democratic, driven by ideas and millions of individual choices about what to do with our money which defy those who benefit from the status quo.
If Labour took away that freedom to innovate and spend our money how we want, they would take away our power over the powerful. If John McDonnell nationalised whole industries, they would be quickly taken over by bureaucrats more concerned about their careers than about customers. Except this time, there will be no choice and nowhere to turn when things go wrong.
Imagine what it would be like living in such a country. Where you’re frowned upon for launching a business and making money, or branded a traitor for criticising the politicians who control an increasing share of our lives. I don’t think that’s a society any of us want – especially those just starting out. They are snapchatting, pop-up-shopping, online-trading freedom fighters. They don’t want po-faced, humourless socialists banning fun and controlling every part of our lives.
We are motivated by making money – and that’s a good thing. It’s the rich and established who benefit when people from ordinary backgrounds can’t make it big. So instead of frowning on success and promising endless handouts, we should give young people the freedom to succeed and channel their go-getting attitude to tackle the big issues we face.
Like in housing, where the answer is more market, not less. More land to build on and more small construction firms competing with established players will push down prices and make ownership a reality for millions.
The same goes for energy, where we need a shakeup which delivers more competition. And to turbocharge these changes, we need to unleash the energy, audacity and disruptive thinking of the next generation.
So I welcome The Telegraph’s Refresh campaign – which will engage young people and bring energy and urgency to developing radical, free market solutions to big challenges like housing and equality of opportunity.
And on the eve of the local elections, I urge everyone to pick up their flat whites, don their blue and fight for the values of freedom, individual endeavour and opportunity that got us where we are today – a freer and more prosperous society than we’ve ever been.
Because if we can double down on those values as we leave the EU, we can build a richer, more self-confident, lean-in Britain where everyone, regardless of background, has the opportunity to change the world.