If there is a theme that has emerged over the first week of the election campaign, it is surely that the main political parties are furiously trying to drive a wedge between the generations.

It's clear that some of their most eye-catching, i.e. radical, proposals are aimed firmly at groups where they think they are strongest.

Labour started this off by coming up with a proposal to give the vote to 16-year-olds. 

There is merit in this - you can join the British Army at 16 and be trained in combat skills (you can't be sent to the front line until you're 18) - and frankly I've come across many 16-year-olds who are far more politically savvy than many in their 30s!

I'm not quite sure how much of a vote-winner this is though - given that everyone to take part in the vote will be over 18. But it definitely shows an interest in younger people.

Meanwhile the Conservatives came up with their own proposal for young people which certainly captured over the intention.

It is basically a proposal for a volunteering scheme with an element of compulsion (though not criminal sanction) for 18-year-olds - with a small minority (about 4%) being offered places in the forces.

East Anglian Daily Times: Home Secretary James Cleverly discusses the National Service plan with Laura KuenssbergHome Secretary James Cleverly discusses the National Service plan with Laura Kuenssberg (Image: Jeff Overs/BBC)

Details of this scheme are very sketchy - all the government is really promising is a Royal Commission to look at how it might work.

But that didn't stop its spin doctors and the national media going into a frenzy over the weekend talking about "the return of National Service".

That was clearly aimed at appealing to older voters - the demographic that is already far keener on the Conservatives.

Youngsters who are worried about how them might struggle with A level study, preparing for university - and indeed their first year away from home might struggle with adding compulsory volunteering (an oxymoron if ever I heard one) into the mix.

I'm not sure that the proposal will go down that well with them or their parents!

But among those who did the old National Service it seems to have struck a chord - although no one born after 1939 has been through that so it is mainly providing a bit of nostalgia for those who are 85 or older!

These policies do shine a light on the voting differences between the age groups. 

It's often been said you get more right-wing as you grow older and a report published in 2021 by the University of Bath and Joseph Rowntree Foundation confirmed that.

In 2019 (when Jeremy Corbyn was pitted against Boris Johnson) Labour remained ahead in all age groups up to those of 50+. However people are more likely to vote as they get older and the gap between the two parties among the older generations was much higher.

If you go back to 2017, a much closer election, the differences were smaller - and the age at which Tory voters outnumbered Labour voters was higher.

There has been some evidence that the age at which Conservative voters outnumber Labour voters has now got even higher - some polls have even suggested it is between 65 and 68.

But older voters are much more likely to go out and vote than those who are younger - they see it as much more of a civic duty.

And some of the changes to voting rules have clearly favoured older voters - age-issued bus passes are sufficient ID to vote but not student travelcards.

East Anglian Daily Times: Shadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liz KendallShadow Work and Pensions Secretary Liz Kendall (Image: PA)

Both parties are targeting pensioners - with Liz Kendall from Labour warning that pensions are at risk from plans to scrap National Insurance payments and the Tories suggesting Labour might threaten the triple lock guarantee.

Getting the grey vote out is clearly important in this election - it remains to be seen whether it will affect the result.

The opinions expressed in this column are the personal views of Paul Geater and do not necessarily reflect views held by this newspaper, its sister publications or its owner and publisher Newsquest Media Group Ltd.