Day five of 'Brexit Britain', and our politicians are jumping overboard like rats deserting a sinking ship. The buzzing phone notifications that began with Cameron's tearful appearance on the steps of Number 10 early on Friday morning, however, are yet to cease as Labour's civil war plays out on our screens in snapshots of 140 characters or fewer. Politicians left, right and centre, are deserting their colleagues, and I wish that such a decisive mark of protest were an option for me.
You see, I too feel disenfranchised with my peers, unable to associate with their ideologies and ideas, and ultimately, I long for some way out. It is with a heavy heart, therefore, that I wish to metaphorically 'resign' my membership of the young electorate. In the last week we have shamed ourselves.
You might regard the looming exit of the European Union as the greatest political victory this country has ever had, or, like me, you be scared for what is yet to come: the future of our education programmes, our economy, and our friends who aren't British-born. Regardless of which box you crossed, the time that you took to research, decide, and then vote last Thursday indicates some concern for the future. According to data collated by Sky News, only 36 per cent of the electorate aged between 18 and 24 voted in last Thursday's referendum. Only one in three young people cared enough to take the time to research, decide, and take the five-minute trip to their polling station last week. This contrasts with the 58 per cent of 25 - 34 year olds, 72 per cent of 35 - 44 year olds, 75 per cent of 45 - 54 year olds, 81 per cent of 55 - 64 year olds and an incredible 83 per cent of those over 65. The number of young people who bothered to vote could have doubled, and we would still have been outnumbered by all demographics over the age of 35. The 75 per cent of young support for Remain was meaningless because we were out-voted and then some by the older Leave support; it seems that we succumbed to an arrogant, apathetic presumption that everything will turn out just the way that we wanted it to, with no effort or input greater than a few witty tweets.
Yet, the internet would have you believe that the eventual vote to Leave was a horrific middle-aged conspiracy to bitterly quash the youthful support for the Union:
"We have been robbed of our future by those who have lived theirs"
"This decision has been made by those who won't be around to face the consequences"
"Those who won't have to live with the consequences of their votes should not be allowed to make them".
The immediate response has been to blame those who - let's be honest - had made their intention to vote Leave clear from the start, rather than to examine the huge democratic deficit amongst our own friends in a vote that we have known was going to be close and hugely influential on our own futures. What's more, the respect that we so often demand from our elders is now a mockery. We beg those with legislative power to consider means testing the winter fuel allowance, free TV licenses and bus passes, in exchange for a reduction in tuition fees, a living minimum wage and a hand up on to the property ladder. Young people have demonstrated little interest in being involved with the democratic process, so, why should we be considered when we will obviously not hold any party who legislates against us to account? This frustrating apathy equates to not only a loss of the referendum result, but a loss of any democratic negotiating power.
In the last week, a proportion of the young people of Great Britain have demonstrated an intense arrogance and apathy, and have scapegoated the consequences of those actions on to those who are relatively blameless - whose fault was to voice their opinion that was different from ours. I hope that you understand that this is an ideology with which I no longer wish to be associated and that you can respect the difficult decision of my departure. Kind regards.....
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