It might just be the most miserly cliché in journalism, as well the definition of craven political opportunism. It’s something that used to be the seasonal occupation of bishops and ex-brigadiers, as well as dredging up those oddball public figures like pinch-smiled spinsters, mirthless evangelical busybodies, mutton-chopped headmasters, all of whom would be found on the front rows of BBC talk shows prognosticating about “young people today”. 

Yes, here we are. It’s election time and those of you who had “vilify the young” in the sweepstake, collect your bag of Werther’s (extra sour butterscotch flavour) from the back of the room. Your coach tour of the scenic delights of Call The Midwife departs shortly.

It’s only a surprise that the desperate appeal to older voters came as early as it did. I didn’t think National Service would get a look in for another fortnight, followed by the usual attempt to grab the headlines with talk about flogging and the death penalty (and that’s just for cyclists). Next up: the trouble with the working class and what to do when a tradesperson gives you lip.

Not that the National Service wheeze is ever likely to happen. A few excitable types across the media seem to have missed the memo reminding them that it was just a sop to the septuagenarian wing of the Tory Party who love to rattle their dentures about forcing young people to do things that young people wouldn’t like to do. 

Like get out of bed before 10am? Hey! Am I right? Am I right?

No, the enthusiasts think it’s a good idea because there’s nothing that Vladimir Putin fears more than a bunch of British teenagers taught to stand up straight and whistle the national anthem. But let’s not get too deep into the weeds about the logistics of Russian aggression – how we should be trembling in our beds about a nation whose economy is smaller than that of California, or that two years ago we were told that the Russian army had neither the personnel nor the equipment to take Ukraine (which it still hasn’t done, despite the best effort of the Trump Republicans), but now we’re meant to worry about them crossing the Channel. (Call me a cynic but it’s almost like certain pundits realise their opinions only matter because they’ve convinced us that there’s war brewing.)

But no, let’s not let that distract us; not when we have the vital business of complaining about the young. I mean look at them, with their crazy optimism, fresh ideas, radical outlooks, innovative fashions, and all that irrepressible energy…