‘Don’t pull a face like that, the wind might change,’ parents used to say to their surly children, back in the days when parents regularly found fault with their offspring. Above the noise of Brexit celebrations and busy news broadcasters arguing about the future of Boris Johnson, there is the resounding echo of slamming door and stamping feet all over the land. It seems that a lot of kids bothered to turn out to vote for a change, but terrible as it is to contemplate, the majority vote didn’t go their way. They lost and that cannot be tolerated.
Is it the lack of competitive sports, the all-must-win-prizes education they get from five until eighteen, or the cosseting in cotton wool that has brought about this almighty tantrum and cries of ‘not fair!’? Not sure but many of the younger generation of Britain are in an almighty strop, displaying a very ugly, yowling face.
This savage rage has come about despite the fact that according to Sky Data (@SkyData) only 36 per cent of 18-24 year olds bothered to vote in the referendum, compared to 75 per cent of 45 year olds and 83 per cent of people over 65. Voting is obviously an adult business but a lot of children are upset about the result. This first became obvious when a young woman went viral on YouTube describing her bewilderment that her vote had actually had a real grown up effect on the life of the nation.
‘I didn’t realise,’ she kept saying, and, ‘I thought I might get another chance to vote again.’
She was after all one of the resit generation, which grew up facing only exams which could be taken again and again until a favourable result was gained. Failing or losing was just not a possibility.
By 4.40 am on Friday 24th, it was clear that the mass of people in the UK had voted to quit the EU, doing so in a bigger number than have ever voted on any issue in any British ballot before. Surprised and amazed I went for a morning walk with a friend visiting from London. He was wearing a red ‘Leave’ T-shirt, not to be provocative but it was the only thing he’d brought with him to wear. I hadn’t noticed it at all, so I was surprised when a fat youth, wearing an earring and tight shorts shouted at us: ‘You should be ashamed! Ashamed! You have ruined the lives of a whole generation!’
He didn’t stay to discuss it but waddled quickly away. I felt sorry that at his age he felt such a helpless victim, his life ruined by nasty people beyond his control i.e us. In Christ Church meadow we met three young people who smiled at us and said how happy they were with the result. My friend felt reassured but went into Oxford and bought another vest, bearing the harmless Oxford University logo, intending to put it on later. On our way back, a young woman talking intently into her mobile, looked up as we passed and shouted the ‘C’ word at my friend twice, again scurrying away before we could reply with sage remarks worthy of our age.
On BBC-2’s Newsnight that night we were treated to a small forum in which someone with the unlikely name, ‘Paris Lees’ a ‘transgender rights activist,’ who writes on Twitter that ‘it’s time for a revolution of love,’ declared that the Leave campaign had been a load of deliberate lies. She/he railed about old people ruining the future for her generation. Dr David Starkey asked her/him quite logically if she/he would like a cut off point for voting, people over 65 perhaps not being allowed to vote at all, or younger people having two votes?
She/he then turned her/his loving gaze onto Dr David Starkey, discounting his opinion because, she said, he was a ‘privileged, white male.’
I have never heard anyone actually stupid enough to seriously use that phrase. He replied with a sad but silent death stare.
The argument uttered mostly in ‘upspeak’ is that older voters won’t be alive to see the consequences of pulling out of the EU, and they only voted that way because they were foolishly deceived and hate Johnny Foreigner. Also they are all comfortably off and out of selfish materialism have robbed the future generation of you know, like, everything.
Racism, xenophobia, selfishness, thingy; charges the young are now making against their parents’ generation began to clearly emerge. Another angry whippersnapper interviewed on TV said that her generation had been robbed of a free education by the nation’s pensioners. This is a popular myth. Primary and secondary education has been free since the Forster Act of 1870 but that did not apply to university education. Because everyone, apart from the dog, now goes to what is called ‘Uni’, people tend to think that has always been the case. When I was a student in the 1970s only ten per cent of the population took a degree supported by their parents or a means-tested grant. Now that almost fifty per cent of people become students it has to be funded differently. Would the young who feel so hard done by want eighty per cent of their chums to lose the chance of further education so that they could go to college for free?
This anger against the thieving, lying older generation is quite distressing. Facebook carries messages blaming Granny for wrecking thousands of young lives. The young people we met in the street who swore and blamed, influenced by pundits such as Paris Lees, have obviously fully imbibed the victim culture. But the sourness of the losers suggests something more invidious about our culture. The activists who’ve set up an online petition demanding another referendum so that they can win next time, they think, obviously don’t have a clue how democracy works; the idea that someone wins and someone loses is obviously not part of their culture.
Rather than being robbed in the cradle, they’ve had far more comfortable lives than any other generation, not facing parental disapproval, corporal punishment, military service or dangerous jobs in heavy industry. Better off than most of our grannies ever were, treated like little princes and princesses, this is the generation that do not know how to compete, and cannot accept disagreement. They must have ‘safe spaces’ in their universities in case anyone gets offended by boisterous male behaviour. They must ‘no platform’ speakers, even the likes of Germaine Greer, in case their little shell-like ears hear the wrong opinions.
The referendum was agonising and the result gave us all a shock, even those of us who wished to Leave. It has said a very firm ‘No’ to the idealistic young who didn’t seem to care about the effects of mass migration, believing that all pressures on our standard of living are caused by government cuts, and wanting nation states replaced by a globalised culture conducted in euphemisms over social media. They haven’t got their way for once. Perhaps it’s the first time that some of them have been refused anything.
If they do gain another referendum or amendments of some kind, there will be intergenerational violence, for the first time since the English Civil War. Girls on their mobiles will be hurling more than common abuse, and we horrid oldies will be hurling strong stuff back. I shall be living in trepidation until the last door has been slammed and this national sulk is over. But there is a very good chance that it will all be forgotten very soon. Politics is, Soooh like boring, and there will soon be another issue to wax indignant over, another cause of victimhood to champion. The grass-hopper mind and the tiny concentration span can sometimes be a distinct advantage for the rest of us.