Brexit Has Divided Generations in United Kingdom
George Eaton argues in Britainâs New Statesman that age has replaced class as the nationâs best predictor of voting intentions.
When middle-class support for Labour and working-class support for the Conservatives rose in the last election, the left attracted almost two-thirds of the youth vote and the right the support of almost two in three pensioners.
Young people have long been more progressive than their elders, but this wide an age gap is unusual.
In a way, this is a manifestation of Europeâs blue-red culture war: the struggle between cosmopolitan, colle ge-educated, urban voters with liberal economic and social views on the one hand and inward-looking, lower-educated voters in small towns and the countryside on the other.
That tension was heightened by the Brexit referendum, in which an older generation voted against an EU from which the young reaped most of the benefits (traveling and studying abroad).
Itâs also a consequence of boomers hoarding the benefits of liberalization (property wealth, generous private pensions) and leaving the young with its burdens (expensive housing, job insecurity, student debt, inadequate or non-existent pensions).
Finally, austerity hit the young hardest. The 2010-15 coalition government tripled university fees, abolished educational subsidies for teenagers and capped working-age benefits. By contrast, state pensions were protected by a âtriple lockâ so they would rise by inflation, average earnings or 2.5 percent â" whichever was highest. Means-tested pension credits, win ter fuel payments, free bus passes and free TV licenses for seniors were untouched.
Good olâ days
Those in or near retirement donât feel they have it so much better, though.
Focus groups conducted by Demos, a think tank, of predominantly whites over the age of fifty, found a longing for the good olâ days when industries were nationalized, workweeks were reduced to three days and homosexuality was illegal.
No matter the reality that privatization has improved many services and Britain is freer and richer today than it ever was.
Demos heard all the familiar laments of nativists everywhere: political correctness has run amok, youâre not allowed to be proud of your country anymore, there are too many immigrants and theyâre all on welfareâ¦ Attitudes like that led to 52 percent voting for Brexit.
British millennials donât have it as bad as American counterparts, but, like them, they realize that an older generatio n has rigged the system in its favor.
Brexit â" much like the election of Donald Trump â" added insult to injury and galvanized Britons in their twenties and thirties.
Expect a backlash in the years to come.Source: Google News United Kingdom | Netizen 24 United Kingdom