Are Young People To Blame For Brexit?

I see a lot of Remainers complaining on social media about susceptible, low information voters. But absent voters are as surely as culpable.

Vote-shy young people

As people try to make sense of, and come to terms with the result of the EU Referendum, it’s become fashionable to complain about old people. For example, the Independent has a piece entitled ‘How old people have screwed over the younger generation’ demonstrating how younger people voted in greater numbers for Remain over Leave, while older folk did the opposite.

Yes, the senior generations did impose their views upon the junior generations… but that’s only because they showed up to vote.  Since the result was announced on Friday I’ve been looking for figures on turn-out, and found these numbers from Sky Data.

I think this might be a survey rather than a poll (there is a difference and the former does not carry as much weight) but the numbers are still instructive.

Writing in the Spectator, Lara Prendergast picks at the idea that the young have been shafted by their elders:

So fewer young people are likely to have voted – and more older people are likely to have voted. Had turnout been higher among younger people its influence would have been even greater, but as is usually the case, there was a general trend for turnout to increase in line with average age. So yes, 75 percent of young people — who turned out — may have voted Remain, but there could have been far more older people (in real terms) who voted Remain than that meme gives credit to. And even more importantly, if more young people had turned out, the result may have been different. It might have swung it for Remain.

If about 650,000 people had voted differently then Remain would have scored a narrow win.  If the turnout among those under 35 was as low as the Sky Data figures suggest, then that shortfall could certainly have been made up by people who stayed away.

I see a lot of Remainers complaining on social media about susceptible, low information voters. But absent voters are as surely as culpable.

But really, is anyone ‘to blame’? Or perhaps, isn’t everyone? Democracy not just about showing up for your solitary moment in the voting booth, but also about engaging others with your point of view.  It’s not a solo but a pas de deux.  It takes two to tango and if the voter makes a misstep then the person who is supposed to be leading should take the blame.

4 thoughts on “Are Young People To Blame For Brexit?”

  1. One thing that always bothers me about young voter turnout figures. Double registration.

    It’s perfectly legitimate to be registered at term time/work address and parents home address, I was throughout most of my 20s, but you’re not allowed to vote in both places, you have to pick one. On the day.

    So, given that a lot of the university towns had lower than expected turnout but term was over and students had gone home, has anyone, at all, checked double registrations to see how many students voted at home instead?

    (sidepoint, the guy in front of me in the queue to vote in Brighouse had registered online on deadline day without knowing he was already registered and was on register twice right next to each other, I wonder how many others that happened to nationally)

  2. It does seem like an inevitable disadvantage. Those young people who were most supportive of the undemocratic EU were the least likely to turn out and vote for it.

  3. The pensioners older than me put their lives on the line to fight in the second world war for our democracy. When they fought against dictators they were as young as the brats complaining that the old have taken their future from them. And many of their friend’s died in order to preserve democracy. The youngsters who were still alive in 1945 at war end didn’t blame the older generation for taking their future from them. young moaners get your faces out of your iphones and encourage your generation to vote. The older generation have made it more likely your future will be prosperous by voting for Leave and reclaiming democracy for younger people who are unable to get their faces out of their phones to prosper.

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