The young people’s vote in this election really is more important than ever. In the 2015 General Election, only 43% of 18-24 year-olds voted, a shocking contrast compared to the 78% of over 65’s voting.
So it’s no coincidence that the collapse in the 18–24 year-old vote has seen the advent of tuition fees, reductions in the housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance, no entry to the ‘national living wage’ until the age of 25 and cuts to students disability allowances.
Since the snap election was called we have been subjected to BBC right-wing propaganda (see example here) and the constant repetition and robotic tone of “strong and stable” and the frightening reality that a hardline Tory government is seemingly inevitable. So, why bother voting, we already know the outcome so why are we even bothering to fight it?
I’ll tell you why, I want you to think back to the morning after the EU referendum. That sickening feeling in your stomach as you try to come to terms with what really just happened. Scrolling through your phone, looking for any signs of positivity and texting your friends with an “is this really happening?” On that day, you felt confused, distraught and perhaps even guilty, guilty that a country you thought was so solidified could make such a terrible decision. But there was one thing you felt more than anything else, anger. I want you to reconnect with that anger, the opportunities that were stripped away by a generation, who many, do not care about your right to live, work and travel to other countries. The experiences and the friendships you might miss out on because of a desire to return Britain to some pre-1950’s version of itself rather than the global, prosperous and accepting country you thrive to be a part of.
The saying goes “you don’t miss something until it’s gone.” We were lucky enough to be in possession of a European citizenship, to travel to all the countries around us and experience the ever changing and growing communities which are right on our doorstep. It is all we have ever known.
But with the Tories pushing for a hard Brexit, the dreams we have may well stay dreams rather than opportunities. You might feel like a spectator to the game of politics, but you’re not. You have a part of play.
The media may be acting as though this election result is already decided, but it really doesn’t have to be.
There is a power in numbers. The Tories won the 2015 general election with 11.3 million votes, Labour coming second with 9.3 million. But 15.7 million people didn’t vote and these people could change everything. So it’s time to stop being ignored and watching your future play out in front of you, without being able to take action.
I want you to read the Tories policies, the Labour policies, hell read any parties policies you like but please get involved.
I will tell you this; the Tories have proven themselves unable to provide us with affordable housing, debt-free higher education, secure employment, living wages, tenant rights and paid internships.
You’ve spent years being pushed through primary, secondary and higher education being told that if you work hard enough, you can be and achieve anything you want. Only to be left with much fewer opportunities than previously promised.
So get involved, force politicians to listen. You have only nine days left to register to vote and it takes as much time as making a pot noodle.
So when the 8th June comes, whatever the outcome it is, you know that you made or tried to make a difference and you did all you could.
The country is at a crossroads and though you might not believe it, you really do have the power to set it on the right path.
After all, we are stronger together.
Register to vote here