Older people were far more likely to vote to leave the European Union (EU), and having lost the argument, supporters of Remain are blaming them, insult them and even arguing their democratic rights should now be curtailed.
The demographic divide in last week’s vote was stark.
The more working class, poor, old and uneducated people are, statistically the more likely they were to support Brexit. The more wealthy, metropolitan, young, urban and educated, the higher is the chance they backed the EU bureaucracy.
Of course, barely concealed contempt for the working classes, particularly the white poor, is nothing new to social media or the liberal press. But, the all-out attacks on senior citizens post-referendum has shocked many.
Headlines in the Europhile press have included: “How old people have screwed over the younger generation” from the Independent, and “EU Referendum Results: Young ‘Screwed By Older Generations’…” from the Huffington Post.
GQ Magazine went all out, producing: “WE SHOULD BAN OLD PEOPLE FROM VOTING”. Writing about “them” as if the older generations are some foreign species, the reasons given by the author included:
“The EU referendum result will have less effect on older people”; “Over 65s read the Daily Mail”; “There was no ‘golden age’ of Britain”; and “We take pensioners’ driving licences away… why not their right to vote?”
It’s hard to tell where the satire ends and explicit generational loathing begins.
“Aside from a pathological preoccupation with immigration, the most pervasive reason for the grey army voting Leave is an inarticulate longing to return to the hazy memories of an idealised Britain that never was,” GQ informs us.
In line with others, political blogger Kevin Drum attempted to dismiss the free will and rational decision making of the elderly, writing: “At its core, this is the last stand of old people who have been frightened to death by cynical right-wing media empires and the demagogues who enable them.”
On Twitter, too, the line between hate and mockery was thin.
my brexit hot take: when will old people dieeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee
— kelly (@marketableskill) June 24, 2016
I guess #Brexit proves that old, racist folks always get what they want. Old people vote.
— Manny-O-War (@MannyOWar) June 24, 2016
— Stephen Robert Morse (@morsels) June 24, 2016
According to a YouGov exit poll, 75 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds backed Remain, compared to 39 per cent of over 65s. Sixty-one per cent of over 65s supported leaving the EU, whilst just 25 per cent of those under 24 agreed with them.
However, polls also found that the young were far less interested in the vote or likely to make themselves heard. Just 36 per cent of those between 18 to 24-year-old, who were eligible to vote, made it to the polls. The overall turnout was 76 per cent.