Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Young vs Old & the EU Referendum

by Les May
ACCORDING to a news report on Al Jazeera there's a storm brewing on Twitter about how we 'old people' have denied the young a future by voting to leave the EU.
Now the significance of this is that I learned about it on a Freeview news channel and its on Twitter.  You see I don't 'do' Twitter and Facebook and I won't have a smartphone.  If you scan to the comments below the original Twitter postings given below you'll see one of the reasons why.  Alternatively just look at Karen Danczuk's Twitter postings from 2014 and 2015 for some even more compelling reasons why.
Not being part of Twitter and Facebook, and not owning a smartphone is I think rather more common amongst my generation than amongst the generation of young people who are doing the complaining.  So if anyone wanted to influence our views about the EU referendum perhaps it wasn't such a good idea to base the 'official' Remain campaign around Twitter and Facebook.
I voted to remain in the EU as did my wife and some of my friends; median age  70+.  Our house had six 'Remain' posters in the windows, but the struggle I had to get these may give a clue to why the Remain message failed to reach so many older people.
My first port of call to get posters was the Britain Stronger in Europe website.  This offered me the chance to 'sign up' to Facebook and Twitter.  No thanks!   What about some posters?  Eventually I found a way to contact them but when I tried my computer alerted me to the fact that nine other website wanted to run scripts on my machine.  No thank!
My wife is a Labour party member so we have a large plastic board 'Vote Labour' which sees the light of day at every election.  So my next attempt involved the Labour party website.  Yes we do posters, but we don't have any.
A little peeved by this time I sent an e-mail to office of my constituency MP Liz McInnes. Not hearing anything the day after I phoned and a helpful young man expressed his surprise that the Rochdale councillor who was supposed to be getting the posters out to people had not contacted me after being given my details.  He still hasn't.
I eventually did get both Labour and 'Remain' posters, but only because of the young man in Liz McInnes office who 'imported' them for me.
There's a lesson here for Jeremy Corbyn.  It's fine keeping Labour members up to date with what is going on with weekly e-mails and using Twitter and Facebook to put across Labour's message.  But you've got to find a mechanism for getting that message to those of us who 'don't do' Twitter and Facebook.
My generation was the first to benefit from the Welfare State which Attlee's  1945 Labour government put in place and I am eternally grateful for the chances it gave me in life.  But I think some of my fellow 'oldies' may need an occasional reminder.  

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