Our Generations

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Editorial and Opinion  |  House: Booksie Classic
A look at why the UK referendum went the way it did, with special reference to the tabloid press and the age differential when referendum results were analysed.

Submitted: July 13, 2016

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Submitted: July 13, 2016



A great deal has been said and written about the way young referendum voters tended to vote for remain in the EU whilst older ones wanted to get out. Let me start by saying that I'm older and I see the out vote as the greatest threat to this country since Suez. But I'm not every old person.

So why this disparity in voting patterns dependent, in general, on age?

I think the answer's quite simple.

Fewer young people read national newspapers. It has been a habit, almost a necessity, in times before mass communication became quite as hectic as it is today, for most adults to get their news delivered daily by the paper-boy. As an aside, I haven't taken a newspaper in years, and that might explain my reluctance to join my age-group in the referendum. Last year one erstwhile friend even used the fact as an accusation in a semi-political debate online! The idiot!

Nowadays many people have a wide variety of sources, ranging from rolling news television channels, the Internet with its social media to brief summaries on the radio and even news apps on their phones. And young people are more at ease with this flexibility.

Three of our national Newspapers have been particularly robust when it comes to condemning the EU – the Sun, the Express and the Mail. And for years it has dripped through their pages, in news reports as well as editorial comment, immigrants, Brussels, sovereignty, Brussels, evil, Brussels.

And many, many of the reports and articles have been either gross distortions of the facts or downright lies. They have been designed, over years, to fix certain notions in the minds of their readers, and the three tabloids mentioned are particularly good at it. And the biggest sadness is that in the post-truth era we live in it's perfectly acceptable.

Younger people have been influenced to a lesser degree and, let's be honest, their youth gives them more flexible minds anyway. Old fogies like me tend to be fixed in our mental processes. We're famous for it. Many won't use the Internet because they can't adapt to slightly different ways of thinking. Even back in the seventies elderly grannies couldn't program their video recorders because video recorders were newfangled and somehow beyond them.

So older generations have had their minds massaged gently by Murdoch and his cronies whilst the young have a clarity of vision that is the essence of humanity struggling ever upwards and onwards.

There's one thing that confuses me, though.

The older people with a gleam in their eyes want to return our nation to its golden years. Those of Empire. Those of using military might against the underdog and sending missionaries complete with their gobbledegook out to “save” souls for an impossible Christian god. Those of forcing their own children to toil in mills and factories for fourteen hours a day. Those of immense poverty and inequality. Those of an average life-span in the thirties. Those of infant mortality at a frightening rate.

Scary, but they see it as a golden age, possibly because age and the tabloids have blinded them. And deep inside their dreams they need to return to it.

© Copyright 2018 Peter Rogerson. All rights reserved.

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