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Did The Old Really 'Shaft' The Young Over Brexit?

07/08/2017 16:54
Neil Hall / Reuters

Vince Cable has set a controversial tone for his term as new Lib Dem leader by claiming that young people were 'comprehensively shafted' by older voters in the EU Referendum.

He was criticised for using phrases like 'Brexit jihadis' and claiming that 'the old' were motivated by an outdated view of Britain based on its 'imperial past'.

So to help us digest this latest salvo, here are six things we know (thanks to British Social Attitudes) about the demographics of the Referendum.

1. There was indeed a major age split, with 63% of over-65s, but just 28% of 18-24s, voting Leave.

Other age ranges were less divided; almost four in ten 25-44 year olds (37%) voted Leave.

2. Cable would have a better statistical case arguing that the less well educated 'shafted' the better educated - 78% of those with a degree voted Remain, while 69% of those whose highest educational attainment was a GSCE grade D-G voted Leave.

3. If young people really do feel 'shafted', they have largely their own age group to blame - while turnout among 18-24s was at a high level (64%), among those aged 65+ it was 25% points higher at a massive 89%.

4. Leave voters were least likely to trust either the Government or Parliament - almost two-thirds 'distrust greatly' both institutions.

5. Leave voters are unconvinced of the merits of immigration. While 91% of Remain voters say it 'enriches' cultural life, only 9% of Leave voters think the same.

6. If you're wondering why Cable, as new Lib Dem leader, feels the need to stir the pot, bear in mind that Lib Dem identifiers voted 73% Remain and 27% Leave.

So Vince Cable's message about age is only half the story given the other factors in play. Unless we look at the whole picture - including the education split, immigration worries, and why so many distrust Parliament - we will never understand properly the Referendum result.

Andrew Hawkins is the chairman of ComRes

This blog first appeared on ComRes' Pollwatch blog, and can be read here. To sign up to receive Pollwatch updates, click here

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