This election is a showdown between age groups. The main hope that left wing politicians have for redemption is to target younger voters and you can probably see why. One of the interesting factors in this coming election is that the split between conservative voters and labour voters is no longer a class split and is way more pronounced in age demographics. Roughly 42% of 18-24 year olds support Labour while a measly 23% support the conservatives. Once you get past that age group, the support is only in the direction of the conservatives with support at an impressive 62% for ages of 65+.
I’m not going to weigh up whether I agree with either side mainly because I often disagree with both tribes and it’s not really the focus here.
To see whats happened in the last few years lets go back to the 2015 general election and how the age split was back then. Around 36% of 18-24 years olds voted labour while 31% support conservatives which is a reasonably even split all things considered, much less of a divide then than now. You do see more of the older generation voting conservative but it’s more like 45% voting conservative rather than the 62% we saw before. We only started to notice this major trend occurring during Brexit and it actually spawned some pretty big arguments with some millennials taking to Twitter and Facebook to condemn the older generation for their “betrayal”. The big debate being whether older people should be banned from voting which is frankly a horrific idea.
So why do we see such a large split? I think there are a few large factors at play, The first factor in my sights being Media consumption. If we learnt anything in 1992 it’s that the newspapers had a vast influence in elections with the infamous “It’s the Sun wot won it” headline. Less and less young people actually trust main stream media organisations whereas in contrast older people still overall trust what News organisations say. I think many would argue that the media in the UK has somewhat of a right wing bias whereas social media platforms have ended up with more of a left wing bias overall, it’s pretty common for me to see friends and strangers alike shunning people they would otherwise be fine with purely down to politics rather than engage and learn and I’m not the only one to notice this trend, this article from wired does a good job of summarising it.
Another factor in this ever increasing divide may be due to how the different generations have grown up, Older people have seen the country slowly decline from the ends of the British empire to current day European politics whereas young people have grown up in a reasonably liberal time without a true understanding of how we arrived at this point. Yes, we young people can read about the past but we didn’t live it and truly experience it with its emotions and ethics. There is no substitute for experience sadly.
Both generations are attempting to reach what they believe to be the best goal with the tools and knowledge that they have, with the source of the knowledge being so different the goals will differ quite dramatically. As the internet gains more relevance I feel this divide will only grow. What I want is for more people to engage in politics other than their own because that’s part of a healthy democracy. Whether you agree with the ideas or not it’s useful to understand your fellow human beings because we’re stuck with each other for the mean time.