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Opinion

Strap yourselves in – we’re heading for baby-boomergeddon

04 Sep 2022 4 minute read
Tory Party members at a leadership event in Ludlow. Photo by Jacob King PA

Ben Wildsmith

It has become perversely fashionable to heap opprobrium upon the Baby Boomer generation.

Millennials carp about rental costs, GenZ seem to think they have a God-given right to a functioning ecosystem, and the ingrates of Generation X persist in complaining about the Boomer-led innovation of television-based parenting.

The remaining members of the WW2 generation are probably joining in too, but they’ve been put into homes, so we can’t hear them.

‘Twas ever thus for this misunderstood generation.

Their spiritual leader, Roger Daltry, was so maligned in his 20s that he hoped he’d die before he got old. He didn’t though, opting instead to open a trout farm and appear in a string of American Express adverts before becoming a leading cheerleader for Brexit.

The EU, Roger explained, was ‘too divorced from ordinary people’.

Self-interested

Brexit is, of course, only one of the political masterstrokes that have been made possible by the largest generational voting block in history.

In the 1960s, newly enfranchised members of the Beat Generation celebrated their first decade of hegemony over national life by voting to abolish university tuition fees.

In the 1970s, workplace rights occupied centre stage, only to be replaced in the 1980s by a focus on enabling the purchase of property.

Cynics have suggested that the tendency of Boomers to vote for the reversal of all of the above once it no longer benefited them speaks of a certain self-interested aspect to their politics.

Whilst it’s true that the triple lock on pensions became an election-deciding policy as they entered retirement, let’s not forget that without Boomer votes we wouldn’t have had Surestart centres, until they voted to close them down again.

The continued influence of this generation has been startlingly evident during the Tory leadership hustings, which have often resembled rainy-day entertainment on a Saga boutique cruise.

Scapegoat Bingo

Scapegoat Bingo involves the contestants making the most horrified face they can muster when presented with the ills of contemporary society before ascribing them to one of two culprits: Sadiq Khan or The Woke.

I shan’t speculate on why mention of the Mayor of London provokes howling fury amongst this audience, previously preoccupied with their ‘legitimate concerns about immigration’, but it’s safe to say that he’s out of the running for a presenting gig on Countdown.

Sadiq Khan does, at least, exist. The Woke, on the other hand, are a nebulous presence, rather like the Borg in Star Trek. You are unaware of their existence until you’ve read about a fireman being sent for diversity training.

Ask Alexa to ‘show me cultural appropriation’ and she will play you clips of Julia Hartley Brewer ascribing wokeness to everything from Covid vaccines to Gary Lineker.

The bleak irony here is that its original usage was in African-American culture to denote alertness to racist practices like thieving culturally specific phrases.

There will be a special place in hell for Generation X collaborators like Hateley-Spewer and Dan Wootton.

These are people young enough to have fully understood why Kurt Cobain couldn’t take it anymore, yet they shill for the vested interests that usher their parents into ever more ludicrous political positions to explain away the chaos we are now all enduring at the end of forty years of fantasy economics.

Cynical exploitation

There is much to be said about democracy in an ageing society.

Our primary crucible for forming political opinions is the workplace. Here, we see up to date evidence of how society is actually functioning and, whatever our roles, filter this through lived experience and professional expertise.

The further into retirement we go, the more distant this reality becomes, leaving us prey to the machinations of newspaper proprietors and online lunatics.

While the picture on the ground becomes ever more worrying, our politicians have distracted enough of the electorate with threats of cultural annihilation that nothing useful is now being done.

As the NHS struggles and inflation makes paupers of us all, the election to come will be fought on the trans issue and how many Meghan Markles can dance on the head of a pin.

Of course, Boomers aren’t the problem, it is their cynical exploitation by financial interests. The question is, should our democracy be so vulnerable to this phenomenon?

With Liz Truss promising a ‘bonfire of workers’ rights’ it’s something to think about on the morning commute.


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Hogyn y Gogledd
Hogyn y Gogledd
25 days ago

Now I know what it’s like to be black!

Absolutely effing disgraceful.

I was born just after WW2 – I hate the tories, I hate capitalism, but most of all I hate stupid.

Kerry Davies
Kerry Davies
24 days ago

Calm down. Just replace the word Boomer with the word English and he has a point. Feeble and blunt but a point.

TBLM1957
TBLM1957
24 days ago

I really don’t think you know anything of the sort. All that’s happened is that you realise there is some generalised yet quite mild social prejudice in the UK against people born between 1946 and 1960, but then there are other generational subdivisions who are also criticised and mocked for no good reason (snowflake, anyone?). Yes, I agree it’s not always justified, but all too often it can be. However I would rather see UK socially divided up by the press vertically (by social class) as well as horizontally (by age) as none of us can exactly help when we… Read more »

Paul Hoskins
Paul Hoskins
25 days ago

I found this piece very entertaining despite being a ‘boomer’ myself. But then I am a lifelong socialist and campaigner against the kind of reactionary, ultra conservatism personified by this section of the Tory party.

hdavies15
hdavies15
24 days ago
Reply to  Paul Hoskins

Most creepy old ( Tory) people were creepy when they were young too. Just like many of today’s creepy young people. That’s how they were and that’s how they are. They acquire a self centred hostility to change at a very early stage and it just case hardens as they age disgracefully.

Gill
Gill
24 days ago

Daltry was born in 1944, so he aint boomer, he is rock star. That was a pretty bad article by any standards. Ben needs to understand nuance and get out a bit more in order to mix with more people of all backgrounds and ages.. !!!

Mawkernewek
24 days ago

The idea of being able to make sense of the world by dividing people into discrete generations such as Boomers, Gen X and Millenials etc. is a pseudo-scientific idea, the Strauss-Howe Hypothesis. <a href=”https://www.lifecourse.com/about/method/timelines/generations.html”>https://www.lifecourse.com/about/method/timelines/generations.html</a&gt; <a href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory”>https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Strauss%E2%80%93Howe_generational_theory</a&gt;
Actually, the hypothesis was made specifically for the demographics of the United States so may not be very helpful outside of it.

defaid
defaid
22 days ago

Ben being as tongue in cheek as Tomi Lahren utterly failed to be

https://youtu.be/4U2bcG8MY3A?t=146

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