The ageist bigotry of the Remoaner lobby

The pro-EU lobby has made it fashionable to loathe the old.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill
chief political writer

Topics Brexit Politics UK

I see Remoaners are keeping it classy. (For clarification: by Remoaners I don’t mean the 16.1million of my fellow citizens who voted Remain – I mean the far smaller number of Remainers who devote their every waking hour to trying to scupper the Brexit vote.) Their latest ruse is a website called ‘EU Deatherendum’. Yes, it is as sick as it sounds. The site assesses the Leave / Remain balance among the UK electorate by taking into account the number of young people who have come of voting age since June 2016 and the number of old people who have… well, died. It estimates, given oldies are more likely to be pro-Leave and youngsters pro-Remain, that there is now a Remain majority in the UK: 50.01 per cent vs 49.99 per cent.

Thank God for death. Thank God those horrible old people with their Euroscepticism and their ridiculous belief in national democracy are dying off. Thank God for strokes and heart failure and cancer. This is the underlying message of this sordid celebration of the mortality of older voters. What this grotesque website is saying is that, courtesy of nature taking its course among the problematic population of EU-opposing fogies, Britain is becoming a better, more enlightened, more EU-friendly nation. So let’s have a ‘People’s Vote’ – that is, a second referendum – and see just how much the electorate has changed thanks to the Grim Reaper and his swatting aside of pesky pensioners.

It’s foul stuff. Vile ageist hatred. So much so that it is feasible, I guess, that a Leaver set it up in order to caricature Remoaner arguments. It smacks of demographic determinism too, as if everyone votes according to their generational experience; as if the 30 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds who voted Leave in the referendum do not matter, and as if it isn’t possible for some of the 70 per cent of youths who voted Remain to change their minds now that they have seen over the past two-and-a-half years what a vindictive institution the EU really is. But it’s important to point out that this website didn’t emerge in a vacuum. There will be much tut-tutting over it, no doubt, including from leading Remoaners who will consider it an embarrassment to their cause. Yet the fact is that this website that implicitly celebrates the deaths of our older citizens is entirely in keeping with the ageist bigotry that has been unleashed by the Remoaner camp.

Bigotry is the right word for it. The contempt for older people has become visceral. They are widely accused of being selfish, uncaring, contemptuous of the needs and aspirations of younger generations. They stand accused of ‘stealing’ young people’s futures from them. There has been open discussion about restricting old people’s right to vote. ‘Old people seem intent on fucking us over forever’, decreed millennial outlet Vice. Novelist Ian McEwan caused much knowing chortling in literary circles when he said the deaths of ‘1.5million oldsters’ could swing Britain to a Remain outlook. Just last week, the doyen of Remoaner Britain – Polly Toynbee – noted that loads of people have died since June 2016 and therefore we must have a second referendum to prevent ‘the will of dead people’ ruling over ‘the will of the young’.

All this anti-democratic demonisation of older generations has licensed ageist bigotry. Remoaners argue incessantly that Brexit Britain is a more racially bigoted place, even though all the stats on UK attitudes towards immigration and reported hate crimes suggest this simply isn’t true; and yet at the same time they unleash explicit bigotry against the old, to the extent of welcoming their deaths if it means Brits might now vote to leave the EU. It is a testament to how distant they have become from their fellow citizens that they see these people’s deaths as little more than demographic leverage in their myopic efforts to keep us tied to the oligarchy in Brussels. Remoaners, well done – you’ve reached a new low.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

Join Brendan O’Neill, Nadine Strossen and Paul Coleman at ‘Should we be free to hate?’, a Spiked US panel discussion in NYC on 29 January. Get your free tickets here.

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Topics Brexit Politics UK


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