LETTER : Drugs, sex and other delights of the Sixties that I missed

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The Independent Online
NICK Cohen's assertion that the "baby boomer" generation who were young in the Sixties are "self-absorbed and self-satisfied" is as dangerous as it is inaccurate ("The selfish generation", 27 August).

I belong to that group (I am 47) and it is a myth that we were all involved in sit-ins, drugs, free sex and the like. We had less freedom than young people today and there was still pressureto marry, get a good job and raise a family. Only the brave flouted these rules. Women missed out on later legislation and had to choose between career and parenthood with the result that, today, they are seriously disadvantaged in the job market.

Cohen may cite such examples as Mary Kenny, Janet Daley and Paul Johnson as turncoats, but there are far more examples of those who remain constant to a challenging and subversive attitude. I could name Paul Foot, Germaine Greer, Tariq Ali, Peter Hain and many more. A Gallup poll revealing that in 1992, 45 per cent of the Sixties generation voted Tory while only 37 per cent of young voters did, does not tell us how the the youth of the Seventies, Eighties and Nineties will behave at the same stage in their lives.

The problem with loading the blame on to one group of people is that it obscures the fact that life is a pretty tough business for all of us and that something must be done about it. I can assure Nick Cohen that some of us are still battling against the demolition of the welfare state which we never took for granted in the first place.

Are we to assume that today's young will relegate the older generation to a life of poverty because we have been deemed "selfish"? Those who are genuinely so will have feathered their nests well enough to escape the rage of their children. But what of the rest of us? Yes, we do feel insecure - and rightly so if Nick Cohen is representative of his age group.

Roberta Stevenson

Cheltenham, Gloucestershire