Strolling through Oxford with a friend last June we were suddenly assailed by a fat youth with studs on his face who accused us of ruining his life. It took us a moment to realise he was referring to the result of the referendum the day before.
‘Your generation has destroyed our chances,’ he whinged. ‘You have ruined my life.’ Before we had chance to reply he’d waddled quickly away. On our way back a young woman passing us, glanced up from her mobile and spat out the ‘C’ word at us.
It was a shock at the time but in the months following our vote to leave the EU most of us have got used to young people blaming the older generation for being better off than they are. Once they accused their grandparents of ‘casual racism’ but from last June to that was added the veniality of owning a home and drawing a pension. Naturally the young want all the goodies right away and they say their lives will be ruined if they are faced with deferred gratification.
Now, shaped around the very crabbed, aged figure of Jeremy Corbyn that youthful resentment has got its revenge.
We are starting to learn to live with the silky malevolence of Lady Nugent, aka Emily Thornberry, the sinister detachment of John McDonnell and the infantile egotism of Jeremy Corbyn in his role of Pied Piper, leading the youth of Britain to sunny uplands.
The swing to Labour was higher where ever there were ‘kids.’ Somehow Piper Corbyn’s campaign persuaded them to get out of bed and do something as boring as visiting a polling station even if it was situated inside a church.
Owen Jones, spokesperson for the marching children was cockahoop.
‘I love this’ he tweeted. ‘Here’s to Britain’s young, you may have changed history.’
He claimed it was the biggest shift in polling since Attlee, ‘an unprecedented surge in support. The young voted in great numbers and the young activists got the vote out.’
Let’s not forget that unlike Atlee, Corbyn lost, his results were worse than in 2010. But let’s not spoil the fairy story and his version does have a grain of truth; Corbyn galvanised the nation’s slumbering youth, and as Owen said, ‘provided an alternative to a stale policy offer,’ in favour of a new vision from the hard left.
Like many a seducer of children, Corbyn brought this off by use of a juicy bribe; a gigantic Big Mac & Fries, with supersize milkshake on the side in the form of £11 billion to cut university fees and £30 billion to repudiate student debt, all paid for by their middle class parents through tax.
The real story is of course much more grown up and difficult. ‘The rest of the EU see the UK as foolish and self absorbed,’ said a defeated Nick Clegg as he sloped away.
He was referring to the hard fact that we have to face 27 hostile EU nations at the conclusion of the Brexit talks in 2019 in a greatly weakened state.
Only one man can save the children, and the rest of us from disappearing permanently under the hill – his strange frog face and incipient double chin appeared briefly like something beamed in from outer space: ‘It’s not what I wanted to do, but I will return,’ said Nigel Farage.
He’s not in Parliament, he will have to create a grass roots movement of activists similar to Corbyn’s. They will be mainly middle-aged, beer drinking, cynical, worldly wise, not given to gluten free diets and sandal wearing, and they will be tax payers. Like Corbyn and unlike poor wraith like Mrs May, he can do it with charisma and aplomb because he has absolutely nothing to lose.