Hello fellow youths,
Good news! In 2017, more people aged 24 and under turned out to vote in the general election than had turned out in the last 25 years. On the surface this is an incredibly heartening statistic, but actually when you look into the numbers a little bit further, what you really see is a massive missed opportunity for young people across the country to have their say. In fact, 1.4 million (over a quarter) of young peoples’ voices were not heard, despite undeniably being the people that will be affected by the outcome for the longest.
Age has become the key predictor of voting intention in the UK. Despite the increased turnout in 2017, people aged between 18 and 24 still made up the largest proportion out of all the age groups of people who did not vote. In contrast, people over 70 years old were the most likely to vote. This leaves us with the question, why should the older generation disproportionately have more say in the decisions that will affect our generation the most heavily, for the longest? How do we change that? Does this even matter?
So often, policies and manifestos are written to please the people that will vote. The result of this is that it becomes progressively more and more easy for politicians to ignore our views and the issues that face us as young people if we do not engage in having our say by registering and voting. The good news is that when we do engage, young people statistically vote in similar patterns as one another. They vote for those who they feel represent them. This means that when we force ourselves into the political space by filling in those boxes, we become incredibly difficult to ignore.
Unfortunately, for those of us looking to build our young people’s utopia where good times are had by all, there is a stumbling block. Apathy. Walking through any campus across the city, there is a huge sense of apathy. You will often hear “there isn’t space for young people in politics” or “there’s no point, it has nothing to do with me”. But even more frequently you hear:
· “I’m struggling with the price of my rent”
· “I’m worried that I’m going to finish my degree and there won’t be enough jobs to go around”
· “I think it’s ridiculous that a night out ruins my bank account”
· “I don’t feel safe walking home on my own”
· “I missed my lecture because my train got cancelled”
“IF ONLY THERE WAS A WAY TO VOICE MY OPINION ON THESE INCREDIBLY IMPORTANT ISSUES!” we hear you cry. Well, all we need to do to get our voices heard en mass is get online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote , register, get our mates to do the same and bask in the glow of our influence. What a dream.