i Editor's Letter: The pro-EU majority is not “silent”, just less strident


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The Independent Online


The most interesting fact in today’s i about Mr Cameron’s EU speech – other than his need to make it – is the demographic split in a poll by the Fabian Society. It is not really a surprise, but it is rare to see it laid quite so bare.

Most telling is the correlation between age and attitudes to membership: 18-35s are 2:1 in favour of staying in; over-60s are 2:1 for pulling out. There’s an incendiary suggestion that in any referendum, over-60s should be conscious of what their grandchildren would want as it is the latter who will live with the consequences! Ha! But why the split?

I blame the war. Still. You now have to be 80+ to have been active in the conflict, and 70+ to remember it. However, at 60+, you will recall a Britain, not only of post-war austerity and rationing, but a relatively homogeneous, if class-ridden, population. The war dominated Britain until the cultural revolution of the 1960s.

Today’s 18-35s do not reference it. Many cannot even reference Margaret Thatcher. Sadly, they may not have studied either at school. Living in a multi-cultural, more socially mobile (despite the “posh boys”) Britain, they look less to the USA, and do not know the thrill of an “Italia” stamp in their passports. They ignore the manufactured outrage about straight bananas and the ECHR, and value the ability to travel and work freely.

Who is right? I am going to have to use that horrible cop-out: only time will tell. But, beware listening only to the mostly older voices of those who, for example, still write in to newspapers (not i). The pro-EU majority is not “silent”, just less strident.