Friday, 1 July 2016

The Generation Blame

Can't really avoid the repercussions of the Referendum for one more weeks posts, because there has been much muttering and out right shouting by certain sections of our society, claiming that the Referendum result was somehow a betrayal by the 'Baby Boomers', perpetrated on the current younger generation. That somehow the 'oldsters' ambushed the process, and pushed Britain (or at least the non Scottish part of it ~ and even there 2/5ths of those who voted, voted for Brexit. Which is something to mull over at a later date), out of the European Union.

The Generation Gap Has Led To The Generation Blame ...

Now I am happy to acknowledge that there was a large divergence between the voting in the referendum depending upon the age groups looked at. However this isn't actually something new ... in fact its not even linked to the 'Baby Boomers' generation.

As a general rule older people are more likely to vote for the Conservatives, while younger people are more likely to vote Labour (or for the liberals if they are bit Geeky). I myself travelled that path with my first vote going to the Labour Party. After that I was what was classed as a floater, but moved more to the centre right with the advancing of the years.

UK Political Party Breakdown By Age ... Similar to Referendum But Labour Voters Defected in 2016.

Fact: The average turnout at UK general elections has been just under two thirds (62%) of the eligible voters. So the higher referendum turnout favoured the younger voters, as it was more of them actually voting, that helped increase the turnout.
  • Areas with a higher proportions of Younger voters also generally have lower election turnouts - aka 'the can't be arsed effect'.
  • Over 65's account for about *10m people (22% of the total electorate). They are also significantly more likely to vote, which reflects in the fact that more than a quarter (26%) of all votes cast at a typical general election, are cast by people aged 65 and above. By contrast, 18-24 year olds probably account for fewer than 8% of total votes cast in a general election.
  • Postal voters tend to be older (working away from home or infirm etc), but are actually even more likely to vote than any other demographic. In 2010 for example, the turnout of postal voters was over 83% returning their ballot forms.
  • Home owners are more likely than renters to vote - Home owners tend to be at the older end of the demographic.
*figures based upon 2010 election as I couldn't find more recent figures

So the claim that the difference in voting between the generations was some sort of a stitch up, just doesn't stand up to examination. What actually happened was that voting turnout followed the normal trends in the UK. A fact which should actually have helped the Remain campaign, because normally older people don't vote for change e.g. By voting to leave a Europe we have been in for 43 years.

What actually 'stitched up' the vote was that:

(a) Not enough of the younger electorate actually voted. Latest figures from the referendum suggest that although the younger turnout was higher than in a general election with about 64% of registered voters aged 18-24 going to the polls, the older voters also turned out in greater number with 90% of over-65s voting.
(b) The claimed 'benefits' of being in Europe left far too many behind outside of London. People with lower educational qualifications don't normally actually aspire to being able to live in another country, or work in Berlin .... instead they often consider themselves lucky if they can get a council house. What difference to being in or out, to someone who only goes to the EU on a fortnights holiday once or twice?
(c) Too many people felt they had no stake in the EU, and many felt that they were in danger of losing their own country. Areas with higher rates of European immigration were more likely to support Remain (something by the way, that Scotland just hasn't experienced ..... yet).
(c) Many of the 2016 leavers, would also have voted to stay in the Common Market in 1975. They had apparently grown disillusioned with the reality of European integration ... something they had not signed up for.


(d) The biggest factor wasn't age, but location. The English locations that the Labour Party (Yes, the party that younger voters generally support in General Elections), claim as being their heartlands (which we can exclude Scotland from these days), voted in very large numbers to Brexit. They defected when finally they felt that they been allowed to voice their opinion on Labours taboo subject of 'immigration'.

They ignored Corbyn and his lukewarm calls to Remain. Wrong leader at the wrong time ... Kinnock or Blair would have energised support (although not necessarily the same Labour voters), Brown and Corbyn couldn't.

The young are always their own worse enemies, and they need to show up in greater numbers if they want their views to be heard. They also really have to learn the realities. For instance, most of the angry young voters are shouting for 'No Borders', but its likely that the right to residence will not change. If we want to trade to with the EU by becoming members of the European Economic Area (EEA), and therefore part of the EU’s Single Market, then we will have to allow freedom of workers movement ... although maybe with work visas, but that's not clear yet no real change.

So all we may have lost by leaving (although time will tell), is a voice on setting the rules and the policies that we will now have to follow. That's something that apparently many felt we didn't really have anyway, as the EU has continued to move in the direction of ever closer integration. So the price of not being assimilated /integrated into the ever closer union, is losing a voice at the top table ... a price many were apparently happy to pay.

However in many practical respects, its likely that we won't lose many of the things the young fear e.g. Freedom of movement will probably continue ... as probably immigration will.


  1. It's probably only about 5% of UK teens who ever work abroad. Most of them I'm bar jobs catering to Brit tourists. This is another bit of middle class whining without thinking about the impact of 3 million plus EU migrants who have moved semi permanently to UK.

  2. It's probably only about 5% of UK teens who ever work abroad. Most of them I'm bar jobs catering to Brit tourists. This is another bit of middle class whining without thinking about the impact of 3 million plus EU migrants who have moved semi permanently to UK.

    1. Your post comment was so good you posted it twice LOL. I'd be surprised if it was more than 1% of UK EU residents who were working ... project fear lives on. Thanks for the post(s).


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