It feels like just yesterday when Russell Brand was appealing to the masses to refrain from voting, but if even he managed to realise that this wasn’t such a genius idea, why are young people still not voting?
It’s estimated that the figure could be as low as 43% for 18-24 year olds voting in the 2015 general election, compared to 78% of people aged 65 and over. Reasonings for this age bracket not turning up to vote is due to feelings of disengagement; politicians harping on about pensions, taxes and benefits are hardly appealing to an 18 year old drowning in exam revision and student debt. Quite simply, politicians are ignoring the young: but why?
If you look at the figures for recent general elections, 18-24 year olds consistently have an exceptionally low turnout, and politicians are not blind to this fact. They then choose to use this to their advantage; there’s no point in spending time thinking up policies to appeal to young people if they’re not going to vote. Instead they target the older generation, who— surprisingly enough— probably don’t care if they’re voting for a party that want to raise tuition fees. We then become trapped in a vicious cycle and the only way to break out of it is for young people to involve themselves in the political climate. It’s no use thinking ‘my vote isn’t going to change anything’ because it really will. Even if your vote isn’t the deciding factor in the outcome of the election, the fact that you’ve even turned up to vote demonstrates to politicians that we care.
The situation looks promising at the moment as more than 100,000 18-25 year olds registered to vote within the three days after the snap election was announced. Only the other day, I was approached in my students union at the University of Leeds by a campaigner who was offering free doughnuts if you registered to vote— it’s simple initiatives like this that could actually help to swing the outcome of the election.
If we want to be taken seriously by parliament, we have to at least show them that we care. Why are we letting people that are 65+ decide what happens on important issues such as the NHS, Brexit negotiations and workers rights when they won’t even be here to witness the consequences? People are actually dying in other countries fighting for the right to vote but we’re lucky enough to live in a democracy, so use it to your advantage! The choice is clear: decide your future or have it decided for you.