If you look at past general elections and voting figures, we can see that young people are not as involved in politics as they were 30 years ago. Theresa May’s snap election of 2017 saw the biggest young persons turnout for 25 years. But what caused the drop and what caused the sudden change?
Let’s Look At How Young People Vote
If we look at the 2017 general election, which had the largest voter turnout since 1992, which 68.7% of the population turning out to vote. You.gov has created a breakdown on how the different age groups voted, and by looking at this we can see that over 60% of people aged 18-29 voted for Labour. We can also see that Labour has the majority of voters up to age 49, where the voters then swap for the Conservatives.
What these numbers show, is that labour is more popular among young people and working folk. Whilst the Conservatives are more popular with the older working generation and retirees. Unfortunately, only 57% of young people aged 18-19 voted, whilst 84% of people over 70 voted. This shows the power of the vote.
Our Current Voting System Only Really Favours Key Marginals
The current voting and governmental system only really favour two parties: The Conservative and the Labour parties. Because of this, it means election time is a race between these two parties, many areas of the country are strongly held seats by one of the parties. This means that if you live in an area which is not openly decidedly labour or conservative then your vote matters more.
Doesn’t Mean Young People Aren’t Activists
Just because young people are not voting or being particularly politically active, it does not mean that young people are not active in their own ways. Politics seems like a very closed book to our generation, with the politicians of today not seeming bothered with the younger vote. Instead young people are channelling their social justice energy into banning plastics, saving the Earth and trying to affect change through social media. The world is changing, and just because young people aren’t watching ‘Newsnight’ or listening to ‘Prime Ministers Questions’, it doesn’t mean that we aren’t affecting change for the world we want to live in.
We Can See Younger Generation’s Power When We Removed Nick Clegg From Sheffield
In 2010, the Conservatives took power and David Cameron became Prime Minister. However, Cameron did not have a majority win so went into coalition with Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats. The Liberal Democrats held 57 seats after the 2010 election and agreed to go into coalition with the Conservatives. It was a bold move and one that would prove fatal for the Liberal Democrats under Nick Clegg. Nick Clegg’s manifesto had one very important stance – no raising of student tuition fees. When he was elected, he continued to push this stand and said that even in coalition with Cameron he would not allow fees to be raised. On the 30th January 2012, university tuition fees were raised from £3000 a year, to £6000, with a top tier of £9000 a year, most universities went straight to asking for £9000 a year. This number has since risen with inflation. Many young people voted for Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats based on their promise of not raising tuition fees and since have felt let down by politics in general.
We Can See How The Young Person’s Vote Mattered More When Voting In Term Time
When Theresa May called a snap election last year, she called the election in June, rather than the traditional May. Because of this, many students were not able to travel home to vote, and instead registered to vote in their university towns. This upswing of student voters in cities and towns caused a massive change in some previously long-held seats. Places including Manchester Central, Canterbury and Sheffield Hallam. The seat of Canterbury has been held by the Conservative Party for 185 years before it was lost to Labour. The impact that students had on university seats was phenomenal.
It is important to think about where you are going to vote as a student, because it is important to think about what is going to affect you. If you a student who spend a lot of time at home, then voting in your parent’s constituency makes sense. If you live away and spend most of your time at university, then voting in your university constituency makes sense. It is important to vote.
All of the research seems to suggest that voting today isn’t geared towards young people. Even if Corbyn is visiting universities and talking to students, the elections themselves are not designed to help the younger generations. Younger generations are very mobile and often are not just stationary in one town or city. The current voting system allows you to choose one of two options, but your option might not even matter if you’re staying with your parents in a small village in Cambridgeshire. Many young people vote for the Green Party and see their vote go to waste.