A nation divided into two age camps
George Eaton New Statesman
The best clue as to how Britons vote used to be their social class, says George Eaton. Not any more. Now, it’s their age. “At the 2017 general election, the generation gap was the largest since polling records began.” Almost two-thirds of 18- to 24-year-olds voted Labour, just 27% for the Tories – a mirror image of the way the over-65s voted. Divisions between young and old are hardly unprecedented – think of the student riots of the 1960s – but they are particularly pronounced today owing to the starkly different prospects facing boomers and millennials. The elderly enjoy property wealth, generous pensions and universal benefits such as winter fuel payments; the young are burdened with student debt, job insecurity and the near-impossibility of getting on the housing ladder. The Brexit referendum has compounded this divide: three quarters of 18- to 24-year-olds voted Remain; nearly two-thirds of over-65s voted Leave. For young people, who have a much more positive view of immigration than their older peers, the vote “intensified the sense of a world beyond their control”.