The coronavirus crisis has only made a poisonous generational divide worse

It is not a time for different sections of society to fight – we must all come together, writes Mary Dejevsky

Thursday 02 April 2020 21:33
Young and old have clashed over their response to coronavirus
Young and old have clashed over their response to coronavirus

on’t you just love the self-appointed gurus of aged selflessness? In the early days, when coronavirus or Covid-19 was still just an “epidemic”, we had Esther Rantzen and Joan Bakewell all over the media extolling the virtues of (their own voluntary) self-isolation.

Then along strolled the historian, Sir Max Hastings, to tell readers of The Times and BBC Radio 4 listeners that his generation was the “most fortunate in history” and “monumentally selfish” to boot. “The first responsibility of the old,” he said, “is to avoid becoming a deadweight on the health system.”

And now we have a new guru, Mervyn King (whose tenure as governor of the Bank of England began five years before the financial crisis), warning that the “lockdown” must not last too long because young people would not stand for it. An “awful lot” of them, King told the Policy Exchange think tank, would say: “Well, the younger generations have suffered in the last 20 years; why on earth is our future being put at stake in order to help prolong the life expectancy of older people?”

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments