Where have all the protest singers gone?

Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and die. Herbert Hoover

It is a truly depressing thing to have to write, but there has never been a worse time to be young. Maybe I should caveat that. There has never been a worse time to be poor and young.

Society loves an acronym and they have one that labels a group of young people aged 16-24 as NEETS. This stands for ‘not in education, employment or training’. A staggering 1.3 million of people who are that age in this country are classified as NEETS. This figure is growing at an alarming rate too since the educational EMA grant was cut.

Many of this group ‘lucky’ enough to find jobs have ‘Mc-jobs’ with no prospects, stacking shelves or asking if you want fries with that. Those without jobs are threatened with benefit cuts as a punishment. Jonny Rotten’s battle cry of ‘NO FUTURE!’ from 3 decades ago seems to resonate even louder today.

Rather than being helped and encouraged this group are instead blamed and vilified for having no work and being a financial drain on the great middle class. Every single day this group is attacked and targeted by the government and press (this however is tautological). The mandatory prefix of ‘feckless youth’ has stuck earning someone working in government PR a big bonus and a couple of industry awards I’m sure.

This group is daily portrayed as work shy, lazy and enjoying lives of sex drugs and rock and roll at the expense of the taxpayer. Our anger at the current financial mess is being forcibly focused on this group and away from the bankers who actually caused it (and ergo the governments decision to back that said financial institution). The week when Bob Diamond resign for allowing interest rate fixing, with a 17 million pound bonus sees a rioter imprisoned for 6 months for stealing a free Argos catalogue.

Lies, lies, lies. Young people want to work, they want jobs. They want a future and their own homes. They want jobs with a prospects, they want to raise a family, just like everyone else. The thing is, there are not enough jobs. There are 3.6 million unemployed with another few million on some kind of disability allowance and only 400k jobs.

This is a direct result of a decision to kill of manufacturing and outsource it to poorer countries and instead back the financial system instead (how did that work out for you)? Yet with a straight face, young people are blamed and demonized for having no jobs by our gracious multi millionaire leaders.

My question then is this, why are the youth not letting their voice be heard? Why are they not out, demonstrating against their treatment? Where have all the protest singers gone?

I am a music promoter and have staged 170 gigs in the last 3 years using hundreds of performers, mostly of this age group. I can count on one hand from the many thousands of ones I’ve heard, any which sing out about the situation and lack of hope these young people experience. You would think their anger would be boiling over and they would be shouting from the rooftops about the injustice of their situation. You imagine that they would be trying to draw attention to their plight by verbalizing their experience. Why don’t they?

One answer is the very reason the government can afford to target them so openly in the first place, they don’t vote. Less than 20% of NEETs actually vote and only 1.3% of them have any active involvement in political parties. This allows the government to attack them, lie about them, blame them, and unfairly punish them, without losing any precious votes. If they tried to do the same thing to the middle class (which incidentally costs the treasurer 7 times the amount lost through benefit fraud, by tax avoidance) they would find themselves out of politics and working as consultants to Saudi arms companies quicker than you could say expense fraud.

The young are totally disconnected and disengaged from society. They feel powerless and trapped in their own lives and can find no way to fight the sophisticated PR machine that seeks to blame and punish them for the political sins of their fathers.

If you kick a dog in a corner for long enough, one day it will turn. This group of young people have immense power, if only they knew it. If they woke up and connected together they have the power to change the world. The young bands and performers have a chance to make this happen. They are the voice of their generation and if they started to verbalize their emotions, who knows what would happen?

Protest songs throughout history have been at the forefront of social revolution and have been the catalyst of change. A song introduces an idea that many people identify with and moots the idea that this injustice can be changed. Once a belief has been changed then action follows and the world will become a better place.

Let your voice be heard. Have something to say. Represent your generation, who knows what could happen?

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