Anti-Brexit journalists and politicians have been criticised for appearing to cheer the death of older voters, hoping attrition of the largely Brexit-voting demographic will allow them to win a re-run of the 2016 referendum on Britain’s EU membership.
Polly Toynbee, the left-liberal Guardian newspaper’s flagship columnist before younger leftists such as Owen Jones rose the prominence, boasted in a widely-circulated column that January 19th was “swing Saturday or crossover day… when the country turns Remain”.
“Enough old Leavers will have died and enough young Remainers will have come on to the electoral register to turn the dial on what the country thinks about Brexit,” the 72-year-old explained, saying Remainers should use the opportunity to force a second referendum.
“Parliament must seize control… logic – if logic were to prevail – suggests the only answer that will rescue both party leaders is to have a great national consultation and a referendum imposed upon them,” she suggested.
— Julia Hartley-Brewer (@JuliaHB1) January 17, 2019
Joe Murphy, political editor of George Osborne’s Evening Standard, meanwhile, suggested that an alleged shortage of blood pressure pills could help tilt what he described as a “#Deatherendum” in Remain’s favour.
“Danger to Gammons,” observed the heavyset journalist — “gammon” being a racist term of abuse comparing the appearance of older white voters to a type of cured ham — “blood pressure pills among drugs running short due to pre-Brexit scares… That might even tilt the #Deatherendum!”
“Deatherendum” was the name of a recently-launched website which purported to track the deaths of older Leave voters, which was closed down yesterday after the EU-based owner complained it had “turned into a platform for Leavers to hurl abuse my way”.
Labour MP Kate Hoey calls out Guardian’s Polly Toynbee for her disgusting comments. pic.twitter.com/5yzsMpUJQJ
— Michael Heaver (@Michael_Heaver) January 17, 2019
Murphy, too deleted his “#Deatherendum” in shame after an appalled social media user wrote: “So we’ve got [Jeremy Vine] having a debate re old folks shouldn’t have a vote [and Polly Toynbee] imagining lots of old leavers have died and now Joe laughing [at] older people are running out of meds. What is the matter with journalists at the moment?”
It is not only journalists who have appeared to welcome the deaths of older voters with relish, however, with Labour’s leader in the European Parliament, Richard Corbett MEP, observing “where there’s death there’s hope” in November 2018.
Do we need a maximum age for voters? We have an aging population and as a result so-called "grey voters" have a huge influence over the outcome of elections and referendums.
— Jeremy Vine On 5 (@JeremyVineOn5) January 14, 2019
Interestingly, Britain’s older voters — including Leavers who preserved the country’s independence and helped to liberate Europe from the Axis powers during the Second World War, such as Dunkirk veteran Colin Ashford and former flying officer Bryan Neely — are among who were able to vote in Britain’s first referendum on the European Project, in 1975.
Over two-thirds of voters at that time backed staying in the European Economic Community, as the EU then was — making it rather remarkable that such a large majority of the same demographic had become Leavers by the time of the 2016 referendum, after four decades of experience with the bloc.