In a Britain pricing Generations Y and Z out of all sorts of opportunities (housing, education, any chance of early retirement…) it should come as no surprise that recent polls see those between 18 and 40 overwhelmingly in favour of backing the Remain campaign in the E.U. Referendum. The concept of British-ness is, after all, one wholly owned by another generation.
The under-40s have been the victims of opportunity denial: according to The Sunday Times this week, baby-boomers (those born between 1946-1960) hold more than £1 trillion of net worth in their homes; this is seven time that held by the under-35s. The young hard-working voter must ask themselves: ‘why vote for a Brexit that gives me no more power?’ A Brexit vote just allows the minnow to leap from the frying pan and into the proverbial fire: this time, they’ll be the ones paying wholly self-inflicted taxes, working until they’re 85 to fund a healthcare system that crumbles under the weight of their obese parents.
Why would the young want to be part of an autonomous Britain? Do they really identify with the sort of Britain that builds proverbial walls (isn’t Trump doing that?) and decides without E.U interference to remove the £9k cap on tuition fees, so that any ‘quality’ university can charge what they like, pricing many out of the best opportunities? ‘Sign me up to this club’ the young cry, ‘why, Boris / Ian / Nigel (insert any male name not given to a male child since 1979) clearly has my future in mind…’
The young are not ordinarily the voting bloc that one would associate with being the great defenders of the status quo, but in this political dogfight they are the generation that has no memory of being ‘sold a kipper’ back in the 1975 referendum. The Remain campaign should be courting these ‘young Europeans’ much better, yet they seem scared of engaging in the ideological argument about it being better to knock down walls rather than build them. The young still hope this is true; the world needs the young to still believe this is true. Humankind that thrives on this idea since some young ancestor of ours took a brave step and walked out of Africa.
Both the Brexit and Remain camps have decided the only ways to court the younger voter are (a) to patronize them; an example of this provided by the recent Stronger In Europe video aimed at young people. Perhaps it was the thumping techno-house soundtrack that distracted the video editors into forgetting to put ‘g’s on all the words in the video? I shouldn’t really mind: after all, we’re the generation that’s too jammin to be spellin. The other method employed by the politicos to engage the young, is to shout at them. Witness, exhibit (b): the BBC debate last week aimed at the under-30s. At this debate, a panel with an average age of 60 seemed to forget that the hearing doesn’t start to deteriorate until – on average – your early 60s. The panel came across as a row of boorish Headteachers, modeled on icons such as Dahl’s Miss Trunchball and the Generation Y classic ‘The Demon Headmaster’…
It is frustrating that the Remain campaign hasn’t done enough to ensure a strong turnout from a generation naturally inclined to support them. Almost everyone I know will be backing Remain if (and this is a big ‘if‘) they can be motivated to vote.
I live by the sea (I can almost see France) and tonight I’m off to enjoy a fish and chip supper (thanks to E.U quotas cod is almost sustainable again) with my children. I just really hope that in a few years time I don’t have to my kids them that grandparents bought all of Brexit’s red herrings and sold them down the river.
NOTE: Apologies for the surfeit of fish allusions in this article: these, including other facts and stats associated with E.U fishing quotas, are key components of ‘Brexit-lingo’. One should be wary of hyperbole claiming that the effect of the ‘migration crisis’ is that our kids are ‘packed like sardines’ in primary schools, or that being a ‘big fish in our own tiny tank’ would be preferable to our current influence in the Aquarium at Brussels.