A Disconnected Generation? Recent years have witnessed renewed concerns about the apparent disengagement of young people with conventional politics in Britain. Although concerns about the social and political situation of youth are far from new, current anxieties about young people’s political attitudes and participation first began to surface in the wake of the 1992 British General Election, and in the light of evidence suggesting that a large proportion of young people had chosen to abstain. In the run-up to both the 1997 and 2001 British General Election these anxieties were exacerbated by pre-election surveys reporting that many young people were equally unlikely to exercise their right to vote, viewing politics and politicians as boring, out of touch, and largely irrelevant to their own lives. In the event, turnout in the 1997 British General Election dropped to a post-war low (71%) and turnout amongst young voters was especially disappointing. Based upon estimates derived from the 1997 British Election Survey, just 56% of all 1824 year olds turned out to vote. The 2001 British General Election marked a further step-change in the disengagement of UK citizens from electoral politics, with the lowest recorded turnout (59%) in a British General Election since 1918. As with earlier elections, young people were again prominent amongst those least inclined to vote in 2001, with estimates suggesting that just 39% of those 18-24 year olds registered turned out on polling day (MORI, 2001). Recorded turnout in the 2005 British General Election recovered slightly, with 61% of the UK electorate turning out to vote. However, there is little evidence so far that the age divide in electoral participation has narrowed significantly. Although reported turnout based upon survey estimates is but an imperfect guide to underlying rates of electoral participation, first results from the 2005 British Election Study suggest little room for complacency; fewer than half (48%) of 18 to 24 year olds claiming to have voted compared with three quarters (75%) of older sample respondents. If young people’s electoral participation is disappointing, their participation in other, more intense forms of conventional political action gives even less cause for optimism. Young people are considerably less likely to be members of, or to be active within, the major electoral parties and are also less likely to engage in any form of conventional political action compared with older age groups. Young people’s under-representation within political and administrative elites is especially striking. Although the 1997 General Election returned more young Members of Parliament (MPs) than ever before, with 11 under the age of 30 (less than 2% of MPs), little subsequent progress has been made, and the wider political and administrative elite remains almost entirely middle-aged in composition.