Vince Cable – “The old have comprehensively shafted the young”

Vince has high prominence in the media this morning for his Mail on Sunday column about the Brexit age divide. Talking about Brexit “martyrs” who are prepared to risk economic hardship to “take back control”, he writes:

(A) concern is that the self-declared martyrs may be planning to sacrifice other people rather than themselves. It is striking that the martyrs appear predominantly elderly (indeed the YouGov poll confirmed that fact). This is unsurprising since 64 per cent of over-65s voted Brexit in the referendum and 71 per cent of under-25s voted Remain.

In the campaign, I was struck by the heavily Remain sentiment in colleges and schools and the heavily Brexit mood of church-hall meetings packed with retired people.

The martyrdom of the old comes cheap, since few have jobs to lose. And even if the country were to become poorer, their living standards are largely protected by the ‘triple lock’ on the state pension and many can rely on occupational, final salary, pensions which are closed to younger people. When I joined the Coalition Cabinet in 2010, we took pride in the ‘triple lock’ to banish the scourge of pensioner poverty. But one of its unintended consequences has been a growing rift between generations.

Pensioners have suffered relatively little from the aftermath of the financial crisis – unless they were slow to shift savings from banks to shares or property. The burden of austerity has been carried by the working population. Young people suffer the additional disadvantage of prohibitive housing costs, growing job insecurity and limited career progression. The old have comprehensively shafted the young. And the old have had the last word about Brexit, imposing a world view coloured by nostalgia for an imperial past on a younger generation much more comfortable with modern Europe.

You can read the full article here.

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