Independence is definitely a generational thing

Some of you may know that I have written a book.  Most of you don’t, because I’ve not done very much about promoting it or talking about it.  And yet, how relevant it all seems – even after the big vote.

The book examines Generation ScotY, Scotland’s 20somethings, who they are, what influences them, how they responded to the referendum and what their voting intentions were.  At the time I finished writing it, it wasn’t clear how they would vote but the book does burst a few myths about what matters to this crucial generation.

So having failed miserably to get out on the circuit and talk it up, and having not bothered anyone at any time for funding for this blog or to feed me and my weans while I took three months off work to campaign for independence, I’m hoping a few of you might be inclined to buy the book.  Even if you never bother to read it, put a smile on Luath Press’s face and buy it please.  It’s not even a tenner.

It’s available here, mostly I think as an e-edition.  But also from here.

generation_scot_y

I’d given up political predictions (I was rubbish at them) but it seems I had a prescient moment or two with the book.

First, that Scotland’s 20somethings would largely vote for independence – and that even within that generation, there was a divide in voting intentions, with the older 25 to 29 year olds being more likely to vote Yes.  Richard Ashcroft’s polling after voting appears to bear that out:  a narrow margin of 4% for No among 18 to 24 year olds but a much wider 18% in the 25 to 34 year old group.

Second, this:

“…there could be trouble ahead if Generation ScotY feels resentful of older generations if they bequeath them a future they neither wanted nor voted for.  Indeed, if as some polls suggest, the older cohort in Generation ScotY (those aged 25 – 34) votes Yes to independence and the outcome is a No vote, then that result will most likely have been achieved throught the votes of those over 45 and particularly, those aged over 60. In other words, Generation ScotY could be denied the future they want by the votes of their parents and grandparents.  Such a situation might foment societal discord, particularly given the outlook for Generation ScotY in terms of their incomes and economic wellbeing…

The book concludes that far from being the generation that wants it all, Generation ScotY wants but a little of all that we – Generation X and Baby Boomers – have had.  “The only thing we have left behind for Generation ScotY is a morass that its members are going to have to spend their lifetimes sorting.”

And this is exactly what Ashcroft’s poll suggests has happened. Only 43% of people in Scotland aged 55 to 64 voted Yes and a staggering 73% of those over 65 voted No.

Pensioners and those about to become so voted to keep all that they have gained in their lifetimes.  They opted for keeping things just as they are, not wanting the bother of upheaval at their time of life. Shame on them.

They are the generation which by their hard work and effort, built the great British institutions – the welfare state, the NHS, comprehensive education.  Throughout my lifetime, the dismantling of those institutions has grown apace, coupled with severe economic dislocation, not once but twice.  Yet, Baby Boomers have been largely protected from the impact of this, by dint of their age distancing their experience of some, such as the education system and because governments and politicans have worked hard to protect them from that impact.

The ones most affected by all the change, economic, political and societal, since 2008 are those in their 20s and 30s.  And they will continue to be so throughout their lifetimes.  There are £5 billion of cuts coming in the next two years to the Scottish block grant;  the Tories have promised to limit public spending as a percentage of GDP through legislation; Labour is pledging to remove under 25s from benefit entitlement completely; inequality is growing exponentially and poverty among young single adults in work is rising rapidly.

Generation ScotY got that in this referendum.  They could look forward and see the misery before them, if Scotland opted to stay within the UK.  When I looked at what issues matter to our 20somethings for the book, I was surprised at what they listed.  They are caricatured as frivolous and flippant and they are anything but.  Generation ScotY took this referendum seriously – far more seriously in terms of the country’s and its people’s future than their parents and grandparents, who largely voted for themselves. Thatcher’s children, indeed.

If Scotland voted Yes, they would still have been all right.  Little would have changed in their lifetimes.  The changes needed to create a wealthier economy and a fairer society would have barely begun by the time they shuffled off to their resting places – something they failed to get.  And they refused to listen to their children and grandchildren, who in opting for independence, were prepared to put up with short-term, even medium term, dislocation, in order to have a chance of their lives – and their children’s – being different.

Baby Boomers opted for a present which only exists in their rose-tinted view of the past, rather than a future which was not theirs to design.  If I was in my twenties, I’d be pretty pissed off with my grandparents right now. And I’d be tempted to call them up and tell them why I won’t be visiting this Christmas.  In fact, the next time a pensioner coming on to the bus gives me a hard stare to get up from my seat, they’ll be given a hard stare right back.  After all, who’s paying the fares here?  Petty, yes. But no protest is ever futile.

But there is also hope. This generation of 20somethings is a sunshine one: despite the hand dealt them by the current state of things, they are optimistic and positive in the outlook for the future. They will make the best of things.

And I don’t think they will give up.  They get that power and control needs to belong in their hands and not given away to sit with a tiny political elite.  They get that equality, justice and fairness matter as key building blocks in society and indeed, the economy.  They are prepared to work hard, to use their talents and skills to believe in and indeed, create a better future for themselves and their communities.  If you buy the book, you’ll find out why I am making such assertions.

So while fear triumphed on Thursday, because of the sheer numbers of Baby Boomers who refused to lift their eyes and vote for the future, hope still remains.  Not least because Generation ScotY voted for it.

The Unionists have written off the possibility of another independence referendum for a lifetime or even a generation.  They’re wrong.  I don’t think Generation ScotY will allow Westminster and the political class to put it back in a box.  The referendum allowed them to discover the thrill of political activisim: 20somethings organised themselves in this campaign and learned skills and enjoyed experiences they won’t want to lose.

The question of independence for Scotland will be back on the table within ten years at most, possibly even five, if the Unionist parties renege – as they already seem to be doing – on the more, new powers vow.  When that happens and all those cuts still to come bite further into the forbearance of Generation ScotY, they will demand the chance – again – to opt for different.  And this time, they’ll win.

For as Alex Salmond said, the dream shall never die.  Not when Generation ScotY – over 53% of it – already voted for it.  Not when they already demonstrated hope, aspiration, belief and crucially, Yes votes that their future lies in an independent Scotland.  Next time, thanks to them and the generation still to reach voting age, the dream will become a reality.

12 thoughts on “Independence is definitely a generational thing

  1. You’ve got some pretty thrilling competition on the Books From Scotland website:

    Grounding Cosmopolitanism – From Kant To The Idea Of A Cosmopolitan Constitution

    “a Kantian form of cosmopolitan theory in relation to the requirements for a constitutional global order. In addition it provides a comprehensive defence of cosmopolitan ethics against realist, pluralist and communitarian critiques.”

    I prefer Brian Cant’s cosmopolitan theories as set out in Trumpton and Camberwick Green myself (albeit adapted by Half Man Half Biscuit) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BWGtaqLaHs

  2. I’m a 67 year old – though hesitant to describe myself as an ‘oldie’. I’m assured that old age these days starts at 70; but yes, I guess I’ll answer to the title of Baby Boomer.

    I voted yes along with my also-67-year-old husband. I was the one responsible for talking my ‘don’t know’ children round to being enthusiastic ‘yes’ voters – and it was heartwarming to be able to see my little grandchildren waving their saltires alongside a Yes campaign rally in Aberdeen recently.

    I’ve voted for the SNP since I first heard Winnie Ewing speak, way back in the sixties.

    My friends, older and younger have all voted yes. We’ve worn our yes badges with pride over the past months, and been more than willing to take part in discussions when the yes badges prompted discussion.

    There’s a really active group of over 60’s out there, who have long memories of the three-day week, the despair and the fear of the Thatcher years, the fury and anger of being pulled into the war in Iraq. We’re not all content with our lot or afraid of change.

    We want a better Scotland and we know that the only way that we’re going to get it is with Independence for our country.

    I’m a bit alarmed at the thought that I’m going to be tarred along with every other over-60 in the country, as ‘those oldies who lost us the referendum”.

    If I ever come onto the same bus as you, I can promise there won’t be a hard stare from me. I don’t expect anything from anyone, I’ve worked hard all my life and learned never to pre-judge people. If someone does offer a seat, I’ll accept it graciously, in the spirit in which it is offered.

  3. What you young whippersnappers want to realise is that the old days we oldies have choices denied to our parents. Whereas OAPs in my parent’s day were restricted to eating Kit E Kat and Whiskas I can look forward to Gourmet, Felix, Iams, Encore, Pro Plan, Sheba, Purina or Hi Life. I want to thank my fellow over 60s for giving me this option. Thank you, you chicken$hit old c**ts.

  4. Much of this article is about poll results, which are not the same as facts. I know many people over aged 60 who intended to and said they did vote yes, and I was one of them. Polls make assumptions based on replies given to sometimes-misleading or confusing questions, and the small numbers of people questioned may or may not say what they will actually be voting for on the day or may or may not action what they say they will. Better to talk to real people, don’t take polls as definitive answers.

    • Susan, all the polls – and all my own experience of canvassing several thousand people over the campaign – suggests that those over 65 intended to and did vote No to a far greater degree than any other age group. Just over a quarter of over 65s voted yes. That you were one of them makes me very glad indeed.

  5. Even on its own terms, this piece is a massive logic fail. It only works if you assume that: a) not only are the older No demographics venally selfish in voting their own sectional interests, but also profoundly stupid in failing to spot that those interests would have been equally safe with a Yes, and b) your GenSY segment were not voting their own sectional interest in just the same way. Unsupported assertions about who considered what, when and how deeply do not add up to evidence of anything beyond your personal preconceptions.

  6. I’ve enjoyed all the Burdzeye View posts through the referendum campaign but would like to point out that not all Baby Boomers voted No. You mention once that 73% of older folk voted in that misguided way but I feel it’d be only fair to stress that, therefore, 27% of us did not. I, and many of my friends, have voted for the SNP since we were allowed to vote and resent being included in the ranks of those who were too complacent to risk the change that we’ve voted for all our adult lives.

  7. I voted Yes and at 67 with health problems likely to give me maybe 3/5 years ( males in my family do not pass 70 ). I had a quarrel a few months ago with a niece who was for No
    ,” ’cause you oldies won’t be around to face that uncertain future ! ) and she is top uni educated ! I feels so bad as does my wife that we feel our future however short is bleak.
    The Boomers did not all get these wonders so often spoken of. I had to work at 12 delivering papers, then milk. Left school as family need my income and worked through the 70ies – three day weeks, black outs, uncollected rubbish and rising unemployment. We then got Thatcher(ed). 3 to4million unemployed.destruction of industry,called scum if you were not working, negative equity if you had a house and the wholesale sell-off of public services at cheapest price to the very people who now run UK.
    The past for many ‘oldies’ was never a bed of roses and with Labours Tory-lite Blair and failed chancellors Brown and Darling now followed byCameron, carrying the Thatcher banner tell me when I will get to feel good ???

  8. I had a conversation today with someone (his intentions are good, so I won’t embarass him by naming) who is outwith Scotland and hasn’t followed it much except via media.

    His argument (amplified by seeing the Ashcroft age split exit poll) was that sensible, older people had looked at the facts and found them wanting. He was particularly scathing about the youngest cohort, and scornful of the research that better informed people tended to Yes.

    Yet I think it’s BECAUSE they are still at school that they’re so well informed. Not being given answers, but being challenged in social studies classes to go and find out, and debate it in class.

    On the contrary, the oldest age group are least exposed to multiple sources of information, and relying on what ‘trusted’ sources (HMG and BBC primarily) say, as historically, they’ve always framed themselves as impartial. Except this time, they’re actors. (They always were of course, but this time it’s more obvious).

    Next time, we’ll remember this. There is analysis of the population’s geospatial split by age. We’ll start on the policy front foot with the oldies (which may include you and me by then).

    • That is it in a nutshell. The eloquence with which young people – yes and no – stated their reasons for voting was breath-taking. Older folk often didn’t want to talk about it at all or parroted what they had seen or read in news.

      And happy to lead from the front on my zimmer. Just hoping not having to wait quite that long.

  9. Reblogged this on charlesobrien08 and commented:
    I like many feel dejected and rejected,I am 62 and can understand why so many vote no but I think there were more younger ones voting yes.I am suspicious of all the new registrations,I wonder where they came from and if the just manage to vanish this weekend and get back to where they came from.The amount that registered was just enough to win for the no,and the unprecedented amount of postal votes that also arouses my suspicions.If as I am certain,will happen,none of the “extra powers” will come our way,there are wars to start and conflicts to send the Scottish troops in to.I can also see Scottish Water being sold off to a new company full of Tory donors and members of the party,it will be sold for a£1. so that they can raise money,and prices,to build the new infrastructure that they need to build.Of course they also own the companies supplying the materials to do the building,I would like to say to all those no voters thank you very much and if you lot are going to die in the next couple of years why did you leave this mess for our grandchildren to clean up.Thanks for getting rid of our country Scotland is no more you lot officially condemned it to history.Thanks for letting me get this off of my chest,I feel so sad Glasgow voted yes and then we had the unionist foot soldiers attack the goodbye party the yes supporters were having.Perhaps my hopes shall like a phoenix shall rise from the ashes of my despair

  10. I like many feel dejected and rejected,I am 62 and can understand why so many vote no but I think there were more younger ones voting yes.I am suspicious of all the new registrations,I wonder where they came from and if the just manage to vanish this weekend and get back to where they came from.The amount that registered was just enough to win for the no,and the unprecedented amount of postal votes that also arouses my suspicions.If as I am certain,will happen,none of the “extra powers” will come our way,there are wars to start and conflicts to send the Scottish troops in to.I can also see Scottish Water being sold off to a new company full of Tory donors and members of the party,it will be sold for a£1. so that they can raise money,and prices,to build the new infrastructure that they need to build.Of course they also own the companies supplying the materials to do the building,I would like to say to all those no voters thank you very much and if you lot are going to die in the next couple of years why did you leave this mess for our grandchildren to clean up.Thanks for getting rid of our country Scotland is no more you lot officially condemned it to history.Thanks for letting me get this off of my chest,I feel so sad Glasgow voted yes and then we had the unionist foot soldiers attack the goodbye party the yes supporters were having.Perhaps my hopes shall like a phoenix shall rise from the ashes of my despair.I must add great blog.I cannot understand why so many were so afraid and or so greedy.There is no chance of extra powers the diversion tactic has already been started “home rule for England” they will say that they have to get this right first,just watch but not with patience one year and if no more powers arrive then call it a renege on the promise and force another referendum,but lets make it a boisterous campaign next time.Call them liars and thieves,because they are,tell the people the truth and get a newspaper that will print the truth even if it has to be bought and brought back into Scottish hands.Being nice did not get the truth out there.

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