One of the worst arguments being bandied about over the need, the absolute need, for a second referendum is that young people who could not vote in the last referendum will be the most affected.
This was the basis of the passionate reasoning by Caroline Lucas, she of the crypto-communist Green Party, at Channel 4’s Alternative Brexit debate. Passion should not be the basis of policy. We don’t do Wagnerian politics here.
The argument of youth being hostage to fortune is, of course, nonsense, as it could easily be applied to every referendum and General Election in the last century.
Consider the referendum that led to devolution in Wales. The proposition was passed with a small majority, much lower than that for Brexit. The consequence has been that while state services have been presided over by the Conservative Party in England since 2010, this change has passed by the people of Wales, where Labour has been in power in one form or another since the post of First Minister was created. Wales is becoming the Venezuela of the British Isles, with negative outcomes in the devolved responsibilities such as health and education, while Conservative reforms in England have improved and maintained services. The failure of Wales to keep up with England has been raised on numerous occasions by both David Cameron and Mrs May. Labour has provided no explanation. The young people of Wales deserve better, but do not seem to equate the politics of their moribund administration with their current plight. That might be the product of the poor education they have received. Young people have been the most affected, but there has been no campaign for a second devolution referendum even as the country visibly declines.
The open-door immigration policies of Labour governments have especially harmed those too young to have had any electoral influence over them at the time. Low-paid entry-level jobs, usually the preserve of late adolescents, are now occupied by twentysomethings and older from Eastern Europe who are perceived to have a better work ethic based on experience, but then people in their twenties are also usually more mature. While this is good for businesses, it is rotten for unskilled teenagers trying to enter the employment market. They are kept off the bottom rung of the jobs ladder where they can learn this ethic and build a career as they mature. Entry-level wages have also been depressed by this immigration policy. Unaffordable housing is partially a consequence of inorganic population growth.
Labour’s postwar industrial policies, which were based around the function of nationalised industries to soak up heavily unionised jobs regardless of the viability of the businesses, condemned numerous towns to ruin as the socialist governments failed to diversify or modernise when overseas competition started to grow. Again this policy affected non-voting school-leavers in these industrial towns who found there were no good jobs. The seed for the late 1970s/early 1980s unemployment was planted by the economic policies of the Wilson/Callaghan years and germinated in the last years of that Labour government. It is an under-publicised fact that Harold Wilson closed many more coal pits than Margaret Thatcher, and it is not clear if socialist planning had any real idea what to do with an increasingly redundant workforce, especially when Labour-supporting unions were ‘blacking’ new technology and processes and fomenting demarcation disputes so their members could be paid money they had not actually earned.
The 1930s were terribly cruel to the British industrial workforce, but certainly not as cruel as the subsequent World War. Labour’s pacifist policies led to a delay in rearmament until the 1935 General Election was over. There was a ‘peace ballot’ held just before that election that reinforced this point. Boys of between 10 and 12 were the most affected by this, as they were the ones who would be conscripted when older to fight in the deadliest phase of the war, 1944-1945, when ground casualty rates approached those of the First World War in North West Europe campaigns. Bomber Command, while devastating the German war machine, saw thousands of young airmen die on active service, with 1,000 aeroplanes lost in the Battle of Berlin of 1943-44 alone. Had Britain re-armed earlier and abandoned a policy of appeasement allegedly designed to provide a breathing space for that rearmament, Germany might have been defeated by a more aggressive military policy before it had the chance to swallow up Austria, Czechoslovakia and Poland. But the pacifist vote of the early 1930s condemned thousands of boys still in short trousers to die young in the early 1940s.
All government policies have consequences for those too young to vote in elections, as the young will grow up in a world affected by those policies. The vote to leave the EU will not result in war. Today’s children will not be dying in 10 years due to misplaced pacifism. The economic dislocation is a matter for debate, especially since the naysayers who promote this prospect tried to have us believe that the disaster would start on June 24, 2016. So using the impressionable young as a human shield is irrelevant, but is also tasteless, given how socialists and internationalists have previously sacrificed so much youth on their altar of self-righteousness.