Staying in the EU and surrendering our democracy is a small price to pay to keep self-entitled millennials happy, because nothing is more important than generation Me Me Me
We of the millennial generation are fast acquiring a reputation as lazy, self-entitled whiners, endlessly complaining about how hard we have it – as though we are the first generation in history to come of age during economically uncertain times.
One might have thought that living in an age when each of us has a mini computer in our pocket which can tap the accumulated knowledge of the entire world – and when we don’t have to worry about, say, dying from tuberculosis – might make us momentarily grateful. But of course we are not, and now apparently the latest “injustice” being inflicted on the millennial generation – my generation – is the terrifying idea that Britain might vote to leave the European Union and seek to govern ourselves as an independent democracy once again.
Channelling this fear, Abi Wilkinson has written a nauseating piece in the Telegraph, explaining why the existential question of Brexit and Britain’s place in the world should be based entirely on the selfish desires and career insecurity of our generation.
Her piece – hilariously titled “Stubborn old people who want to leave the EU are condemning the rest to a lifetime of uncertainty” – is so patronisingly, finger-waggingly sanctimonious (and so readily swallows every talking point from Britain Stronger in Europe) that it makes anyone under the age of 35 seem completely insufferable, not to mention utterly wrong on the fundamentals.
When you consider that the risks of leaving the EU fall disproportionately on young people, it’s unsurprising that 18-29s are the group least likely to support the move. Almost three quarters of us say we’ll vote to remain, compared with just 37 per cent of over 60s. For many under-30s, worrying about employment has been a defining feature of our adult lives. Having come of age at the height of the financial crisis I know I’m certainly not keen to endure another similar economic downturn.
Of course becoming an adult and entering the workforce during a major recession is tough. Back in 2008 I had friends at Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers who came home from work one day with all of their possessions in a cardboard box, and I narrowly escaped a redundancy round at my own company. Nobody wants economic uncertainty if it can be avoided, but at what point do infringements on democracy and the fundamental right to self-determination outweigh the hope of greater short term stability?
Wilkinson sees no such tradeoff at all – she is ready to jettison democracy at the first sign of trouble, throwing away our freedom even if it buys a measly 0.1% additional GDP growth. But the truth is that Brexit is possible while keeping disruption to a minimum by exiting to EFTA and EEA membership (the “soft landing” approach which would almost certainly be adopted by civil servants even if it is currently being furiously ignored by the mainstream Leave campaigns).
Abi Wilkinson might have known that there exists a comprehensive plan to achieve Brexit, extricating us from political union while minimising economic and other disruption. But like too many others of my generation, Wilkinson can’t be bothered to do her research, and so instead she swallows and regurgitates propaganda from the Remain campaign.
Already, young people are particularly likely to be in low-paid, precarious employment. Many are stuck working jobs well below their qualification level and struggle to secure the full-time hours they need to pay their rent and basic living costs. For anyone in this situation, the TUC’s warning that workers’ rights enshrined in EU law could come under attack following a Brexit vote is another serious worry.
At this point, Wilkinson’s politics become clear. She is one of those cookie-cutter lefties who love the European Union because they believe it acts as a social democratic bulwark against the Evil Tory policies which would otherwise ravage the nation. Or to put it another way, Abi Wilkinson doesn’t give a damn about the right of the British people to vote for the policies that they want for themselves. The population is too conservative for Wilkinson’s taste, and so we must have values and policies imposed upon us which we are not currently enlightened enough to vote for ourselves.
Abi Wilkinson is a great champion of democracy, you see.
But now it starts getting really offensive:
Less negatively, many people in their teens and 20s also appreciate the broader benefits of belonging to the European community. We’re more likely to travel abroad to work or study. Many of us have friends who were born in other countries so we’re less inclined to be wary of other cultures. We’re also much more likely to date someone who was born outside the UK.
In contrast, supporters of Brexit often seem to be motivated by a fear of the unknown. Older people are more likely to distrust migrants and to feel nostalgic for the comparatively homogenous UK of days gone by. Though there’s a sizeable retiree expat community residing in countries such as as Spain, over 60s are statistically likely to see the free movement of people as a threat rather than an opportunity.
Of course, for those who’ve already exited the labour market – or are planning to retire within the next few years – it’s much easier to focus on your gut instinct. If you’ve not got to worry about your employment prospects, the economic facts of the matter can be treated as a secondary concern. Young people have a reputation for being reckless, but in the EU referendum it’s older folk who will be playing fast and loose with the livelihoods of younger generations.
As more countries have joined the EU, migration to the UK has gradually increased.
As a 20-something living in London, this isn’t something that worries me. I’m used to hearing a whole range of different languages and accents as I go about my daily life. It’s a mundane fact that many of my neighbours are relatively recent immigrants, not a cause for concern.
For someone who has lived in the same area for decades, however, I can see that it might be harder to adjust to changes in the local community. Still, it’s worth noting that UK-born people who live in relatively diverse neighbourhoods tend to feel more positively about migrants than those who don’t — suggesting that fear of immigration might be disproportionate to the reality.
Young people, open and tolerant; old people, suspicious and racist. Got it?
Note too how Wilkinson has pivoted, portraying young Remainers as the fearless go-getters off to pursue international careers and date hot Italians, while old people are now “[afraid] of the unknown”. She switches perspectives at several points throughout the piece, as though she cannot make up her mind whether young people are brave pioneers or snivelling victims (probably because it suits her purposes to be both at different times).
But worst of all is the suggestion that older people supporting Brexit are doing so not out of considered deliberation, but through “gut instinct”; that they are somehow not taking this seriously, and playing “fast and loose” with the livelihoods of the young.
Here, Wilkinson is seriously suggesting that the generation who have abandoned watching a nightly news bulletin in favour of Buzzfeed listicles pushed to their smartphone screens are the wise and discerning citizens, while those who actually have living memory of the European Union’s incremental power grabs are the ones making light of a critical geopolitical issue. The sheer gall of it is quite unbelievable.
Read the whole thing, if you can get to the end of Wilkinson’s sanctimonious lecture without wanting to punch your computer screen.
The problem with Abi Wilkinson – and too many other members of Generation Me Me Me – is that they believe their right to an easy path through life trumps everyone else’s right to live in a representative democracy. As far as they are concerned, the fact that our own elected Westminster and devolved parliaments are increasingly sidelined by a supranational European entity is just the price we will have to pay for their ongoing contentment, because heaven forfend that the fuzzy career aspirations of some first year Gender Studies student are thwarted by a badly-timed outbreak of democracy.
In other words, too many millennials don’t know how to think or act as engaged citizens. Rather, they are capable only of behaving like selfish consumers, jealously guarding what they see as their special pot of privileges without the slightest care for the wider impact on the customs and institutions which together make up the fabric of our country, and which have often existed for decades or centuries before they were even born.
To this arrogant mindset, the older generations (like those strange grey haired people who gather round the Cenotaph every November wearing their silly medals for doing something or other in the past) don’t have a clue about what is best for Britain.
Apparently the generation which fought and bled and died to secure our freedom – whose contemporary Britain was reduced to rubble and rationing and deprivation in the 1940s when they were in the prime of life – is the selfish one, while their descendants (and I include myself) who sacrificed nothing but have mastered the Art of the Selfie somehow have a lot to teach our elders about responsible citizenship.
I’m sorry, but I’m not buying it, and I will not have it proclaimed in my name. Abi Wilkinson can speak for her very selfish self, but she should not presume to speak for the rest of her generation, or to demean the older generations so haughtily and glibly.
Some of us actually respect our elders. Some of us appreciate that coming of age when the building on the corner was a smoking crater from a German V2 rocket – rather than an artisan coffee shop with free WiFi – might possibly have imparted some wisdom and experience that we have not yet managed to acquire for ourselves.
Some of us weren’t born expecting all of the good things in life to be handed to us on a golden plate, or raised to be so rude that we write articles in the Telegraph essentially declaring “to hell with your democracy, give me a job in Madrid and cheap mobile roaming charges!”
Some of us are not so arrogant to assume that because we are “the future”, we are free to completely reshape society as we please, with no regard for the traditions and proven solutions of the past – you know, things like representative democracy, that old-fashioned concept where you actually get to vote out the people who make the key decisions if you disagree with them (try doing that in Wilkinson’s beloved EU).
Abi Wilkinson’s narcissistic, self-centred embrace of the Remain campaign makes me sick. It represents everything bad about the millennial generation, confirming every worst stereotype and instantly negating all of the better angels of our generation’s nature.
To those older Britons who wore the uniform, who fought for this country, who grew up in real deprivation in the early post-war years, who actually remember a time when Britain was a sovereign democracy and who are rightly incensed at being addressed as though you are stupid and greedy by a vapid, know-nothing millennial: please know that Abi Wilkinson does not speak for us all.
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