Voices: ‘Millennial Millie’ could live 1,000 years before voting Conservative
With the Labour Party just 17 points ahead in the polls, the race is on to find the imaginary person who will decide the next election.
For a while, it was “Deano”, an internet meme who has come to be taken seriously. Deano owns his own house on a northern new build estate, has a nice car on finance and plays PS4 on his Very Big Telly. What makes Deano – not that he exists – so interesting to people who are interested in this kind of thing, namely pollsters and policy wonks, is that he comes from a Labour area but he has Thatcherite values. He voted Tory in 2019 but he really doesn’t think he’s going to do so again, what with the government he voted for having been a rolling performance-art-level farce pretty much since day one.
People seem to reckon Rishi Sunak can get Deano back onside, but Deano really has made his mind up. There’s not enough time left. And, more to the point, Deano is not Deano’s dad. Deano really doesn’t give very much of a toss about small boats, which is the only thing he can think of when asked what Rishi Sunak spends his time doing, not that he’s actually done anything about it.
Now, apparently, there’s a new character, Millennial Millie, a new demographic for political parties identified by The Spectator. Millennial Millie is 26 to 35, she’s very clever, she worked very hard at school, but she doesn’t appear to have very much money, possibly because she was too self-regarding to get a proper job.
Millennial Millie, apparently, is a floating voter. If a political party came along and solved all her problems, like, say absurd house prices, horrific student debt and crushing childcare costs, she would consider voting for them. Since Millennial Millie was born, exactly two days ago, various pollsters have interrogated their datasets and concluded there could be 50,000 Millennial Millies and they’re all absolutely definitely going to vote Labour.
Of course, the most sensible thing Millennial Millie could do is marry Deano but she never will. Recent studies investigating the cause of falling birth rates in the developed world, and all the awful consequences that come with it, have concluded that they are in no small part down to women now outstripping men in educational performance and then finding that they don’t want to marry ‘down’ (and, just as damaging, finding that insecure men don’t want to marry ‘up’ either.)
It’s a tragedy, really. Millennial Millie and Deano could be very happy together. Deano smashing all his monthly targets down at the recruitment consultancy, bringing home the big bucks, while Millennial Millie fannies around doing whatever it is she does with podcasts in the garden office, bought with Deano’s bonus. (Millennial Millie, to be clear, could just as easily be Millennial Milo, and for every Deano there’s a Denise.)
But if Millennial Millie is quietly hoping that the Tories will come good for her over the next 18 months, she may not be the most keen-eyed observer of the world around her for the last decade or so. If she really is a floating voter, it can only be because she hasn’t noticed that all of her adult life, her government has not wasted a single opportunity to make her life as hard as it possibly can.
Maybe Millie was studying in Sheffield 13 years ago. Maybe she went down to see that nice Nick Clegg man get out a pen and actually sign a big poster, in black and white, promising not to raise tuition fees. That sounded nice to Millie, so she voted for him.
She’s in her mid-thirties now and she’s still seeing hundreds of pounds coming off her payslip before tax to pay off the tuition fees signed off by the very man who signed that poster, but which aren’t even sufficient to cover the interest, so the amount she owes is higher than when she graduated 10 years ago.
Millie, like absolutely everyone her age and below, could see clear as day that Brexit was a terrible idea but no one listened to her. No one’s listening to her now, either, even though she’s been entirely vindicated.
More recently, she spent two of the prime years of her life, sitting indoors in her flatshare with people she doesn’t like very much, mainly to keep other people safe from a disease that was fairly unlikely to ever do her much harm.
She remembers the fear at first, but there’s definitely a part of her that thought finally, finally, there’s going to be a house price crash and I’ll be able to buy a place of my own. But, instead, Millie sat around doing nothing much other than watching Rishi Sunak bring in a massive stamp duty holiday so that even during once-in-a-generation economic armageddon, prices still went up instead of down.
Millie’s intrigued by the Tories’ new offer of more free childcare hours for under-threes, but she’s also crunched the numbers, the staggered introduction, and seen it really won’t make any difference to her, and it’s highly dubious as to whether it will ever be introduced at all. She also thinks that whatever the Tories will do, Labour will at least match, so what difference does it make? Maybe, you know, Millennial Millie doesn’t really matter. Nor does Deano, or Mondeo Man or Stevenage Woman or Plymouth Person or whatever else. Maybe the election will be decided by David Smith, and his wife Susan. There are tens of thousands of them. They live in every town and every village. They’re rich and they’re poor, they’re old and they’re young. But what unites them is that they can’t really afford their weekly shop anymore, they can’t get a doctor’s appointment or an ambulance or even a train and their children’s teachers keep going on strike.
They don’t have very much in common other than, based on last week’s evidence, all they really want is a different government, and they’ll vote for absolutely anyone just as long as they think they’ll beat the Tories. They’re not floating, these voters, they’re circling, biding their time to work out exactly where to strike to do the most damage. And, barring a miracle, it’s far too late to do anything about it.