All over Facebook, Twitter, and other social media, there are people decrying Leave voters for the outcome of the election. Leave voters are too old to have the vote, or too stupid, or too racist, or too working class, proclaim Remain voters.
Many young people have argued that the older generation have voted with self-interest, with little regard for the future of younger generations. They’ve pointed out that older people have to live with the decision for less – some have even suggested those over a certain age shouldn’t have the vote or should have to pass competence tests.
I'm not giving up my seat to the elderly anymore. Eye for an eye.
— VUJ (@DavidVujanic) June 24, 2016
There are several flaws in this approach – firstly, it assumes that there are no young people who participate in the xenophobia and racism that the Leave campaign promoted, or wanted to vote Leave for other reasons. Secondly, it assumes that all older people do participate in xenophobia and racism, ignoring that fact that no small percentage of them are immigrants or black and minority ethnic (BME), who will obviously suffer as a result of the reported increase in xenophobia after the referendum result.
Not to mention, as the economy suffers after the referendum, not all older people have the privilege to be unaffected by this. Many of them are poor, and as George Osborne announces further cuts will have to be made, other services that are important for the elderly will undoubtedly be cut. Disabled people have suffered greatly under the Conservatives’ austerity, and this is also a group of which a large proportion are the older generation which have been criticised so much in the wake of the referendum.
Other groups have been criticised too. The middle class have argued that working-class people blame immigration for all of their problems – memes criticising a lack of education and linking that with xenophobia have been scattered across social media, along with images like the one below.
— Matt Willis (@mwillisrun) June 24, 2016
This argument, too, is wrong in many ways. The same argument that middle-class people are just as capable of being racist and xenophobic applies here too, and to ignore that is blatant classism, along with ignoring the huge diversity in the working-class group.
It’s impossible to deny that working-class people have suffered a huge amount in recent years and once again, Tory austerity is to blame. But parties on all sides of the spectrum have repeatedly directed their anger toward immigrants. When people are suffering immigrants are an easy scapegoat, and parties like UKIP have targeted the working class as their audience for years. Few have stood up and defended immigrants and working-class people and so the working class cannot be blamed for voting in favour of Brexit.
For every group pointing the finger, they are ignoring the media and politicians pandering to xenophobia, along with the many valid non-immigration related reasons that people may have voted in favour of Brexit. Young people blaming older people ignores that turnout among 18-24s is estimated to be only 36%, compared to the 72% across all age groups.
There is more than just one group to be blamed for the result of the referendum. It’s not the time to be pointing fingers or making assumptions. It’s time for us to work together to make a plan for our future and to work on eliminating the xenophobia that has spread throughout our society.