And so I was perusing the Daily Mail, as you do, looking for something a little offbeat, as all the major news stories revolve around economic blather (sorry, but why should I write on it when there are many more informed than I) or Jade Goody, and the rest of the Mail is taken up with 'shocking' pics of Girls Aloud, celebs on the beach and Jonathan Ross - so I headed over to the blogs section
And low and behold, Peter Hitchens is no longer a Tory
Yep he's an uber-uber-Tory, or a Conservative with a very big 'C'
Cameron isn't good enough for him and you may as well vote for Labour as the Majorite Cameronites, because they are all the same "liberal elite"
OK then, far be it for me to question the man from the right over this - I'm not in the mood
Instead what I picked up on was his description of the Tory front bench as "teenage"
Osbourne is known to be a little young, and it's definitely good satire to mock his baby-face, but is the Tory front bench really that young? It's been a long time since Hague was a teenager, Peter; he's bald now, and has already failed as leader in his own right, and drinks 14 pints in a session - surely he's a man now?
But you know what this needs backing up with? Mind-numbing statistics!
Not for you of course, but for me, as I check wikipedia to ascertain some ages
Now let's start by checking the Tory front bench - Osbourne is very young, at 37, practically in nappies. Baronness Warsi is next youngest, and those two alone make up the entire representation from those born in the 70s
So here's some averages:
Average age of the Tory front bench: 50
Average year of birth: 1958 (obviously)
Average age of Labour Cabinet: 49.95
Average year: 1958
Average age of an MP: 50.6
yep they are as good as equal - I left the Labour figure unrounded to show that they are ever so slightly younger on average (the Tories were exact) - with a whole three members below 40 (all 39...)
So where exactly is this allegation of teenage front benchers coming from? Don't blame the over-retirement-age Ken Clarke - his omision takes off less than a year
In fact there's virtually nothing between the two, maybe Peter just doesn't like the under 45s, and merely looks at the youthful Cameron as an indicator of too many 'kids' on the front bench
I think Peter is getting at the fact that few of them have any governing experience - well unfortunately that's not going to happen after 12 years away from power and the fact that we never have senior politicians far below the age of 40, most of the governing Tories were old by 1997 and many have since retired - not to mention the fact that in 97 we were hardly likely to see members of the 1979 cabinet return - Blair, Brown, even Straw and Prescott were new to leading the country when they came in
So I don't quite know what he's getting at - he wants a bunch of pensioners like Lamont, Hurd and Heseltine back to lead them?
Utter drivel, the only place you will now find 'experience' is in the current government - and look where that is getting us
It just strikes me as a particularly low blow, leading the reader to assume the Tory frontbench is in some way young (yes I am aware it's a right-wing hate rag) - and why am I suddenly defending the Tories from it's own paper?
This does of course lead me to the debate over age - what exactly is wrong with having a young leader? - we're talking 30s here, let alone 20s - we currently have one MP born in the 80s, despite the fact that you only have to have been born before 1991 to be eligible vote, or be elected
So that's one MP to represent pretty much everyone below the age of 30, now I'm not saying we should expect a huge amount of younger people - experience does have some merit, but how do you expect young people to be engaged if they see no one from their own generation in the house?
One glaringly obvious example is tuition fees, not even Jo Swinson (our 29 year old baby of the house) has had to pay them, not that she would as a Scot, however most people under 24 or 25 would have paid them - nobody in the house that passed that bloody law back in 2004 experienced them - and yet they get to punish the young...thanks a lot (and considering an MP's wage can easily cover them I don't swallow the argument about them paying for their kids)
In fact most of our dear representatives would have benefitted from their free education between the sixties and the millenium, but they chose to financially cripple the next generation...so nice of them
I hark back to the American Revolution for what I think of that: 'No taxation without representation'
One can of course argue that as the young have a vote they are represented, once again showing how our electoral system has let people down
Politicians want ethnic minorities and women to be represented, somehow arriving at the logic that someone with differently coloured skin affects their views more than their age
Young people have their own experiences of life, and currently MPs are too far disconnected from them - they are typically out of touch with technology, haven't gone through the current education system, or many of the other things that affect young people, let's face it - different periods breed different attitudes and the way the system works it only gives the voice to people who grew up in the 70s, and 80s at best - meaning that politics is generally decades behind modern trends
It needs to change