Things Can Only Get Bitter:
The Lost Generation of 1992
Alwyn W Turner
'The most interesting essay on British culture I have read since George Walden's New Elites ... his description of how we moved from the harsh and confrontational world of Thatcher to the soft and mendacious world of Blair is superb' – Nick Cohen, Standpoint
'This is all fascinating stuff, and Turner's text contains plenty of astute observations' – John Harris, The Guardian
'Rather good' – Norman Tebbit, Daily Telegraph
'Turner, a lifelong gloom addict, approaches even the most innocent and joyful developments in a mood of sulky intellectualism' – Lloyd Evans, The Spectator
The victory of John Major's Conservative Party in the 1992 general election came as a surprise to the pollsters. For many others, it felt more like the last straw.
For those born in the few years either side of 1960, their entire adult lives had been spent under a Tory government, and now there seemed no likelihood of that ever ending. If Labour couldn't win when the country was in the depths of a recession caused by Conservative economic policies, then what hope was there?
A generation turned its back on Westminster politics, directing its attention instead to capturing the commanding heights of national culture. For a brief period, it was successful, creating a cultural renaissance that reshaped the identity of the country.
In the process, however, it sowed the seeds of its own destruction, while its absence from politics ceded the field to a group of homogenised professional politicians, who were allowed to emerge unchallenged.
This is the story of that generation, refracted through some of the key cultural moments of 1992.
Featured on Andrew Marr's Start the Week on BBC Radio 4
and serialised in the New Statesman