The country and the wider world are not in a very impressive place at the moment, with greed, inequality and nationalism rising like marsh gas. We – that is to say the post-war, 20th century generation – must accept responsibility for this. We have allowed this to happen, no matter how some may have tried to steer a different course. “We”? Yes, we the older generation, who vote, who have reaped baby-boomer benefits and who have had the experience, perspective and time to have done things differently but failed. We who have polluted and despoiled the planet. We who have sailed our country off into oblivion.
A few years ago it looked as though the younger generation, including even the historically energetic student population, had turned inwards and left it all to us oldies who were into politics in a way they were not. Today, though, there are signs of hope. Students are leading the protests against gun crime in America, articulately and dynamically. The upswell in Labour Party membership in this country is heavily populated by young voters. Students are protesting about unfairness on campus or about tuition fees. Even Parliament has its new injection of youthful energy in the form of rising stars like Laura Pidcock and Lloyd Russell-Moyle. And why not? The future is theirs to claim, after our failure to provide a proper legacy.
Hard as it must be for those with a career of flattering power or even of interest and experience in politics to give way, the world ahead demands that we do. This new world has to be moulded to and by those who will inhabit it; and to do so in their own way. Watching parliament at work [?] must make it seem as alien to the young adults of today as air travel would have to Gladstone. They will communicate and form tribes in ways unknowable to those who govern today. They will have their own ideas about the climate, diversity, migration and work. We oldies may counsel them but will do so from a position of ignorance, not of understanding of these ideas.
Let us give the next generation its head, allow its talent to blossom and make its own mistakes and successes. They will surely do no worse that our generation has. And if we are too selfish to give way, who knows, they may just use their own ways of doing things to take control anyway. Let us make it easier by introducing votes at 16, a fair voting system, digitally enabled. I am confident that they will make us redundant.