ONE of my first reactions to the referendum result last week, after disbelief and shock, was a strong feeling of sadness that younger generations of Brits would not enjoy, as I and millions of others had, almost unfettered freedom to roam across Europe on holiday. I’ve been lucky enough to drive from London to Turin in Italy, and through Belgium, Germany and Austria to Hungary. I’d also travelled by train to southern Poland from my suburban station in London. All of this travel without needing a visa or seeing a border guard, except when my navigator took a wrong turn and we went through Switzerland.
I can see how young people would value this freedom and why they could feel angry that they had been denied this by older voters who mainly voted to leave the EU.
However, one of the more interesting statistics to emerge once the dust settled was that, although 75% of under-24s voted to Remain in the EU, compared to only 39% of over-65s, crucially, it is reckoned that only 36% of under-24s voted, compared with a massive 83% of over-65s!
So, if the other 64% of young voters had bothered to vote, they could easily have changed the result. The lesson being there is no point in complaining after the event, if you could have achieved your goals by voting in the first place.
But, does this matter to the Falkland Islands - the country that regularly gives opportunities to young people to attend sessions in the United Nations, or provides education at higher learning institutions around the globe? Well, if you will forgive an incomer from expressing a view, I think it does. Despite the admirable voting records and the involvement in politics by some younger individuals, I sense that politics and leading the country is seen by some as something to get involved in when you are nearing retirement.
But, with full-time, paid MLAs, it is now possible to put your employment on hold while you get involved in serving your country. I don’t think it is any secret that some MLAs are standing down at the next election, having devoted decades to the cause. What would be healthy for the Falkland Islands, would be to see the next generation of public-spirited people step forward in numbers to help their country meet challenges in the future - their future.
WITH my new court reporter’s hat on, in response to Nick Hutton’s letter I feel inclined to point out that our reports are necessarily very brief summaries of the proceedings. In every trial, the prosecuting and defence lawyers provide lengthy submissions on sentencing and the impact each type of punishment would probably have on the defendant. (I imagine) JPs take these submissions into account when deciding sentence. For example, fining a wealthy sportsman, may have less of an impact than a custodial sentence. When a foreign national is disqualified from driving in the Falklands, that person may subsequently lose their job, accommodation and possibly right to remain in the Islands. I do not defend or criticise the sentencing, I’m merely pointing out that not all the relevant circumstances leading to sentencing can be contained in a brief newspaper report.