Counterintuitive voting intentions

Brenig Davies says that older people’s propensity to vote to leave the EU is counterintuitive.

I am 71 years of age, born in 1944, one year before the end of the Second World War, and brought up in a village in the south Wales valleys. As a child I still have strong memories of my grandparents and parents relating stories of scurrying under the stairs to the sound of aircraft – friend or foe. Stories were told of bombs being jettisoned in Dowlais to lighten the load as the Luftwaffe flew back to Germany. I have vivid memories of actually seeing the devastation of Swansea caused by bombing raids. Many of those aged 18 when I was born would have fought in the war with many lamentably not returning.

EU Referendum

Leading up to the referendum on June 23rd, we’ll be publishing some key figures’ arguments for and against remaining in the EU.

You can find all of our articles on the EU referendum here.

Intuition would suggest that those of my generation and older would put the price of peace at the top of their polling intentions. This may be so. But EU referendum polls indicate that there is a propensity for many older people, with war memories, to vote Leave. This seems counterintuitive. I am not a historian, psychologist or sociologist but my intuition leads me to expect this significant group of voters, who also vote in high number, to vote to Remain to guard against another war in the west. Or be relieved that we have lived with peace in most of Europe since 1945.

Many polls indicate that areas bereft of heavy industries have high voting intentions to Leave. This is proving to be furtive ground for UKIP. Yet the demography of these areas have a comparatively high number of older people. These are the areas that have gained most, in many respects, from EU regional funds. Conversely indications are that the young are leaning to Remain with numbers increasing since the extra 48 hours provided due to computer overload on the final scheduled day to register to vote.

It seems truly obverse that those who remember stories of the war and in many cases experienced it wish to leave a political, cultural and commercial boundary that had the intention of improving our lives. It seems we are left with a conundrum with insufficient time to solve before the referendum polling day.

The outcome of the referendum will affect us all over time.  Let us just wait and hope that political analysts and others will provide helpful, albeit tentative, answers that policy advisers and politicians can respond to in a more responsible way than the arguments currently being put forward by some high profile politicians on both sides of the referendum.

Brenig Davies is contributor to The Eye website.

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