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Do our political views change as we get older?: 6 Minute English


Neil: Hello. This is 6 Minute English, I’m Neil. Sam: And I’m Sam. Neil: Sam, do you remember the first time you voted? Sam: No I don’t, but I remember being very keen to do it. It would have been the first election after my 18th birthday. Neil: So, over the many, many, many years since then … Sam: … eh, not so much with the ‘manys’ if you don’t mind Neil! Neil: In the very, very few years since then … Sam: That’s more like it! Neil: In the years since then, have your political views changed very much? Sam: I think my political views are a lot better informed now. I think the decisions I make are based on a better understanding of the political situation – but I still generally agree with the same things I did when I was younger, I think. Neil: There is a belief that as we get older we become more right-wing in our political views and opinions. Is this true and if so, why? We’ll be finding out a little bit more about this but first a question. What was the first UK general election in which 18-year-olds could vote? Was it: A: 1929, B: 1950, or C: 1970. So, what do you reckon then, Sam? Sam: Well, they were all before my time. I’m going to say 1950 – that sounds about right – it was the decade in which teenagers were invented, after all! Neil: OK. Well, I will reveal the answer later in the programme. James Tilley is a professor of politics at the University of Oxford. He appeared recently on BBC Radio 4’s programme Analysis and was asked why, if it is true, do we become more right-wing as we get older. What does he think? Prof. James Tilley: The question that age affects our political views is a tricky one. I think probably the most plausible explanation is that people just generally become a bit more resistant to change as they get older and I think also that they also tend to perhaps, become less idealistic. Neil: So, what reasons does he give? Sam: Well, he talks about what he thinks are the most plausible explanations. ‘Plausible’ is an adjective which means something is believable; it’s reasonable and makes sense. Neil: And what are the plausible explanations? Sam: Well, he says that generally, as we get older, we like to have more stability in our lives, we don’t like change, in fact we are resistant to change. That means we are against change. When we are younger we might like the idea of revolution, we might be very idealistic. This means, for example, we might think that we can and should change the world to make things better. This would cause big changes in the world which when we are older and more settled in our lives, do not seem like such a good idea. Neil: Let’s listen again. Prof. James Tilley: The question that age affects our political views is a tricky one. I think probably the most plausible explanation is that people just generally become a bit more resistant to change as they get older and I think also that they also tend to become less idealistic. Neil: Professor Tilley goes on to explain more about why being resistant to change might lead people to support more right- wing policies. Prof. James Tilley: So if parties on the right represent a platform which is perhaps more favourable to the status quo, it’s perhaps more about pragmatism than it is about idealism, then that might be more attractive to older people than younger people. Neil: So what is seen as the appeal of moving to the right? Sam: Political parties have a particular set of policies. This is sometimes known as their ‘platform’. Professor Tilley says that if their platforms support the status quo, they might be more attractive to older people. ‘The status quo’ is a Latin phrase we use in English to refer to the situation as it is now – that is, one that is not going to change. Traditionally it’s parties of the centre right that seem to be more supportive of the status quo. Neil: So, as we get older he says our political views are less about idealism and more about pragmatism. ‘Pragmatism’ is being practical and realistic about what can be achieved and how it can be achieved. Sam: But of course this doesn’t apply to everyone and just because people seem to move more to the right as they get older doesn’t mean that they completely change their politics. Neil: Let’s hear Professor Tilley again. Prof. James Tilley: So, if parties on the right represent a platform which is perhaps more favourable to the status quo, it’s perhaps more about pragmatism than it is about idealism, then that might be more attractive to older people than younger people. Neil: Right, let’s get the answer to our question. What was the first UK general election in which 18-year-olds could vote? A: 1929, B: 1950, or C: 1970. Sam, what did you say? Sam: I thought it was 1950. Neil: Well, you’re wrong, I’m afraid. The correct answer is 1970. 18-year-olds have been allowed to vote in the UK since 1969 and the first general election after that was in 1970. So, a bit later than you thought, Sam, but congratulations to anyone who did get that right. OK, let’s remind ourselves of our vocabulary. Sam: Yes, first we had ‘plausible’. An adjective that means ‘believable or possible’. Neil: Being ‘resistant’ to something means you are against it and don’t want it to happen. Sam: If you are ‘idealistic’ you have a clear and simple moral view of how things should be. Neil: This contrasts with one of our other words, ‘pragmatism’, this noun is the idea of being realistic and practical about what can be achieved. Sam: A ‘platform’ can describe the policies and ideas of a political party or politician. And ‘the status quo’ is the unchanging situation as it is now. Neil: OK, thank you, Sam. That’s all from us in this programme. Do join us again and if you can’t wait you can find lots more from BBC Learning English online, on social media and on our app. Goodbye! Sam: Bye!

4 Comments

  1. Tech Thoughts
    Tech Thoughts August 22, 2019

    1st comment like

  2. wendellsilva
    wendellsilva August 22, 2019

    Thank God I have never been leftist

  3. Gibe Tube
    Gibe Tube August 22, 2019

    Third comment

  4. marita s
    marita s August 22, 2019

    Hi,Everyone,I'm from Russia.I was going to elect in 1994(I'm not sure) in little village.I was amazed of situation,when in the private place the guidance how to vote was hanging on wall.That was my first and last time.

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