The bakery this morning, two 6th formers earning extra cash; In tears to me: "What have these old people who voted LEAVE done to our lives?"
— Jon Snow (@jonsnowC4) June 25, 2016
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.
% who got through our final #EUref poll turnout filter by age group:
— Sky Data (@SkyData) June 25, 2016
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.
This is embarrassing https://t.co/aUSkoDxHw6
— Madeleine Stone (@madeleine_beth) June 26, 2016
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.