Comment: Should we vote as young people?

_th june Opportunity 2

There is one week left to register to vote and have your say in the General Election 2017.

Written by Oliver Sirrell

How many people have told us that voting is important? We heard it in the 2015 general election, we heard it at the EU referendum and we will hear it at this year’s vote on June 8th.

We heard it from our parents, our friends, our teachers, our colleagues, our local MP, our TVs and our Twitter feeds, and it’s been relentless.

We wonder why those people who beg us to vote in June didn’t vote in the local elections in May, or why they tell us to only vote a certain way, or perhaps ultimately, why a singular vote matters so much.

These are all legitimate concerns which can easily nullify any enthusiasm voters have for politics; concerns that deserve discussion and focus.

Yet there is proof that our vote does count, as The Guardian testified last week. In a report they claimed that if ‘students get out and vote’, there is a significantly higher chance that Labour will form the next government.

This shouldn’t come as a shock to many; students and young people are traditionally left wing. In 2015, 43% of students voted Labour. Now, YouthSight believes that 55% of students will vote Labour in a month’s time.

Traditionally however, young people don’t vote in their droves. At the last general election, only 26% voted. Yet if 30% more went to the polls, this would translate to 3.8 million 18-25 year old voters. If 55% of them voted for Labour, Jeremy Corbyn would be stepping into 10 Downing Street on June 9.

Of course this is highly unlikely but it is highlights the impact of voting perhaps better than some of the examples that we are incessantly presented with.  

We thank the suffragettes for their tireless battle to obtain the right to vote, but in 2017 their message is tired. We empathise with those in war-torn totalitarian states who cannot even dream of universal suffrage, yet in modern day Britain this (sadly) does not resonate.

What we need is to dictate our own future and to learn from the past, instead of learning about it or wallowing in the present. Elderly voters have too much of a say in how this country is governed, as seen in the EU referendum and it’s time to reclaim our voice.

This doesn’t necessarily mean voting for Labour though; there are plenty of policies from all parties for us to engage with.

Labour are promising an end to university tuition fees, the Lib Dems are still rallying against ∫ (a phenomena which 75% of young people voted against), The Conservatives are aiming to reform the Mental Health Act 2010 (20% of adolescents and young people may experience mental health problems in any given year) and the Greens are pondering the introduction of a three day weekend.

Essentially, there is a lot to vote for – let’s just make sure we do it. No matter what our choice on June 8, let’s show Britain that our votes can cause change.