I had made up my mind not to vote in today's Referendum. In fact I went public about the decision in this very blog. To be honest, I just couldn't stand the thought of voting for either side. Every time I heard the 'Remainers' predicting plagues of locusts it took me straight back to the poisoned, lying words of 'Better Together'. But 'Vote Leave' is no 'Yes'. Instead of smiling hope and enthusiasm it has been a snarling, scowl of bitter insularity and barely disguised racism.
So I decided not to vote at all. I received a long and convincing reply in the comments section of the page from Ian who rightly reminded me the least I should do is turn up at the ballot box to spoil my paper. Fair enough. Too many good men and women have laid down their lives for my right to visit the ballot box for me to stay away. Cheers for that Ian.
But now the day has arrived and I've changed my mind. I will be putting a cross in the box that says 'Remain' with no enthusiasm whatsoever.
There have been a couple of things. I had already made my decision before watching Sheila Hancock's magnificent contribution on last night's Channel 4 debate. If I hadn't already been off the fence, Sheila would have definitely knocked me off my sulking perch. Clean off. I don't know if it is up on YouTube yet, but it will be soon enough and it is the finest speech I have heard in years. I guess it helps when the person speaking the words is a trained actor with sixty years experience, but bloody hell! Wow.
The main reason for my change of heart was a sudden memory from the desperate days following the defeat of the 'Yes' dream back in 2014. I remembered reading the statistics describing how the generations had voted. The young had overwhelmingly hitched their wagons to optimism and hope. In fact right up to the age of 60 the people of Scotland had voted 'Yes'. But the dream was trodden down by the over sixties who were having none of it.
I took to my keyboard and wrote a blog which was little more than a howl of rage and anguish. Within a few hours over 10,000 readers turned up to share the pain. It all just felt so wrong.
And now it looks like it's happening again. 70% of young people want their future to be in a land that looks out on the world with a smile and welcomes strangers. 70% of old people want to slam the door shut and pretend it is possible to return to a Faragian myth of the 1950's.
I reckon this generation of old people has to be the most selfish there has ever been. Instinctively I feel apart from them but I guess I probably should admit to myself that at 55 years old I am more or less a part of them.
How much do these people want? They are quite literally the luckiest people in our country's history. They have lived through a golden era we will never see again. All their lives they have known a free health service and free education. When they went to university, it was all paid for by the tax payer. They bought houses for a few hundred pounds in the 1960's and watched them turn into treasure troves. They have never been asked to go to war and they have seen the price of food crash by 80%. When they were young they consumed the joys of the 'Swinging Sixties' when all the basics of life were cheap as chips and more or less everyone who wanted a job had a job. And now millions of them enjoy the kind of final salary pensions that will never see the light again.
And yet nothing is ever enough. Every election sees the over 65s more or less blackmail politicians into putting them first. Medical science has ensured there are more over 65's than there have ever been before. And do they ever appreciate their electoral power! They know the silver haired vote is all conquering. No party dares to stand up to the militants with the disabled parking badges.
Gimme, gimme, gimme....
Gimme, gimme, gimme....
Triple locked pensions and pension tax credits and a winter fuel allowance and free TV licences and free bus passes...... Never mind that most of these guys are sitting on a bricks and mortar fortune and get a monthly pension most young people working fifty hard hours a week can only dream of earning.
And how have all these nasty election bribes been paid for? On the backs of the young of course. Where else? The poor sods who are now weighed down to the tune of £30,000 when they work hard for a degree. The poor sods who are priced off the housing ladder forever. The poor sods who are charged £1500 a year for insurance when they pass their driving test. The poor sods who have been slowly but surely priced out of all the things that the silver haired generation used to take for granted. Like a night in the pub. Like going to the match. Like filling the tank with petrol.
A third of everything our country produces goes to keeping the older generation in the style it has become accustomed to. I heard a telling phrase the other day. Today's young are the 'Pack Horse Generation'. They are expected to pay for everything and they get nothing in return.
What makes the way the younger generation are being treated doubly sickening is the fact that they are so ridiculously commendable. 25% of 18 to 25's are now T total. Guess where we now find the vast majority of problematic binge drinkers who cost the NHS £35,000 a year when their livers are all shot to hell? You got it. The over 65's. Over recent years teenage pregnancy statistics have fallen off a cliff at the same time as the over 50's have accounted for a steep rise in sexually transmitted diseases. When it comes to getting completely pissed and having unprotected sex the young have a great deal to teach the old! Bloody ridiculous isn't it.
You would think these sweeteners, bribes and goodies would be enough for the oldies. Fat chance. Nothing is ever enough. Their sense of entitlement beggars belief. And now they are doing their best to smash yet more of the hopes and aspirations of those who pay all the bills. Oh yeah, today is threatening to be IndyRef revisted.
I do not pretend to share the enthusiasm the younger generation shows for the EU. To be honest I think they are a tad naive. But hell, it is their future when all is said and done, not mine. Democracy should mean they have a proper chance of the future they choose. It isn't my future. And it certainly isn't a future that belongs to the over 65's. How dare they dig in their embittered heels and deprive the young of the what they want? And why? Because they heard someone speaking Polish in the Post Office? Because Mrs Rogers reckons house prices on the street will have dropped when that Pakistani family moved into number 37? Because the Lithuanian girl in Asda couldn't understand a simple question about where the sellotape could be found?
It sucked in September 2014 and it sucks now. The bitter oldies slapped down the dream of 'Yes' and now they want to drag us all behind the walls of a moaning, xenophobic, permanently grumpy Little England. When a vote is all about what the next fifty years will look like, I would love to see a very different voting system.
Something like this.
Something like this.
Under thirties get 3 votes each. Those between 30 and 60 get two votes and the over 60s get one. It would mean that those who will be living the future will have the biggest say in how it should look. Of course the silver haired brigade will be involved in some of the future and so they should be allowed some of the say. But only some.
So what the hell. I'm getting down with the kids. Fair enough, the EU doesn't ring my bell much but if that's what they want, then they should be allowed to have it. Christ knows they get bugger all else.