Wednesday, January 01, 2020

Just when you thought you'd heard the last about brexit

Not that any of my readers would be deluded enough to think that this is going to go away any time soon, just because Johnson wants to pretend it will.

Brexit, in some form or other, is going to start actually happening at the end of the month. I'd call it a grotesque act of self-harm but of course a lot of those who are going to suffer will be those who have opposed it at every turn. In fact it is not so much self-harm as intergenerational conflict. 

Here is the horrific split of voting preference versus age in the 2019 general election:

Now I know what you're thinking, old people have always tended to vote tory. True to a small extent, nothing like what has happened recently. Here is the longer set of results from 1992 onwards:

The blue lines do trend modestly up to the right, and red ones down but it was only since the brexit referendum that age became such a sharp dividing line, with roughly a 3:1 split of old voters voting one way and 3:1 split of young voting the other in the recent election.

What we have now is nothing short of an ideological war being waged on the young by the old. Having had all the opportunities and benefits of EU membership for most of their adult lives, they are denying this to their own children and grandchildren based on their anti-EU obsession. This isn't just an accidental consequence of not thinking about things, when specifically asked about the possibility of family members losing jobs due to brexit, a majority of brexit voting pensioners actually said they didn't care, they wanted their precious brexit anyway.

And let's not forget that there are about 2.5 million voters who have never been allowed to vote on brexit because they were under-18 at the time. Well over a million brexit voters are already dead (that's just simple demographics) and yet their views are literally held in higher esteem than real live people who are going to suffer the consequences for decades to come. Even if not a single person had changed their mind (and I'd agree not many have) then we would have had a majority for remain for the past year. That pretty much agrees with all opinion polls now for the past year and more, not to mention the election result itself where the tories (and brexit party) totalled about 45% of the vote versus the 55% from parties who wanted at least another referendum on the details if not outright opposition. Nevertheless, that's the way our system "works" and the tories have the power to do whatever they want for the foreseeable future. They, and those who voted for them, own the consequences in their entirety, especially after they've spent the past few years yelling that they know exactly what they voted for. A bit odd that they never managed to agree what that exactly was (beyond a few trivial slogans), but never mind. I'll not bother predicting because there is not yet any clear picture of what they want to achieve.

Remember the heady days of 2016 when the brexiters told us that we held all the cards and our negotiation with the EU would be the easiest trade deal in history? Now there is no more talk of sunlit uplands, brexit is at best presented as a tedious, costly and difficult task we need to try to get through before the tories can start to undo the damage caused by whoever it was that happened to be pretending to govern the country over the past decade (don't anyone tell Johnson who was in the cabinet over the past few years....). In fact it's such a good idea that the govt is banning any mention of it from February, even though the fun will barely have started at that point.


William M. Connolley said...

And a happy new year to you and J.

James Annan said...

Chance would be a fine thing.

“Life! Don’t talk to me about life.”

HNY to you too. I look forward to more interesting comments in the future :-)

Mark said...

What we have now is nothing short of an ideological war being waged on the young by many of the old.

James Annan said...

Yes of course you're right. Even at the extreme right hand end, the tory vote is only 60% or so of the total and labour almost 20% (and there are other parties too...). In fact I know a bunch of older people locally who are horrified at what is going on. I also understand that the correlation with education is even stronger than it is with age though given these graphs that's hard to believe.

crandles said...

>"A bit odd that they never managed to agree what that exactly was (beyond a few trivial slogans)"

It seems to me this is up there with supplying weapons & help to Lybyan rebels. When they wanted weapons and help all the rebels groups would happily say they wanted Gadaffi gone and afterwards they would be all in favour of giving up weapons and supporting democracy. After Gadaffi was gone and it was time to give up the weapons, it was a great surprise (NOT) to see the groups suddenly getting differing views on what should happen.

It may not be wise for me to be saying brexit appears to have similar traits to people who firmly believe in brexit but disparate groups having more than 50% does not necessarily make a good majority.

The obvious necessity for something like a single transferable vote between different version of brexit and the more united remain camp (48% before any difficulties with doing it emerged) not happening seems to me to be an obvious travesty of lack of due process.

(This is in addition to the electorate close to the time it happens being the more appropriate electorate as you covered.)