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Age at work and the #GeneralElection

by on April 19, 2017

We are back after an Easter break. And hardly at our desks before the news broke of the upcoming general election. Listening to the Today programme this morning and browsing The Guardian’s coverage of today’s Parliamentary debate at lunchtime, some ‘age at work’ stories seemed to leap out…

First, some contrast in how the age of MPs and parliamentary candidates is used (or not used).  The Independent reported here that Vince Cable, who lost his seat in the last election, had announced his intention to run for Parliament again in his former seat of Twickenham. Sir Vince is 73 and his age is not mentioned in the article (nor, I think, did it come up in his interview on the Today programme) which is refreshing.  It is however raised in the reader comments where for example, one reader writes ‘Jobs for the boys, no interviews, just straight in the door ahead of younger candidates’ – implying the privilege of prior experience but conflating this with older age.

George Osborne however specifically invokes his age (45) as a reason for his decision to stand down (though some might say that the election is a convenient mechanism for him to do so given the criticism he faced over his multiple other jobs). ‘At the age of 45, I don’t want to spend the rest of my life just being an ex-chancellor. I want new challenges. I’m very excited about the opportunity to edit the Evening Standard. I’ve met the team there, and their energy and commitment to this great newspaper are positively infectious.’ As reported here in The Guardian, Osborne also said that “I am stepping down from the House of Commons – for now” – leaving open the possibility of a return to politics. So not quite sure how that tallies with the opening line quoted above about not wanting to be an ex-chancellor at 45. And if anyone had made sure that with numerous other paid roles, they weren’t ‘just being an ex-chancellor‘ I think we can say that it is George Osborne.

Away from the age of politicians, we have also seen the issue of voter age raised by the Greens who are calling for 16 and 17 year olds to be allowed to vote in the general election.

And there are calls for younger people to register to vote – not least after (unfounded?) speculation  that the absence of voting by this age group contributed to the outcome of the EU Referendum.

This gives an indication of some of the age-related matters that are likely to be issues in the campaign. I’m sure we’ll return to this before 8th June!

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