It has been evident for many years now that there is a certain level of apathy within the UK’s youngest eligible voting group: and there are many factors as to why this is. A vast majority of today’s youth do not see the point in voting as many find it difficult to relate to any of the political parties, or perhaps they just haven’t been educated in politics during their schooling years. Some choose to spoil their ballot as a protest to the current political system, with others just choosing to follow suit by voting for who their parents support. An IPSOS study published figures showing that the 18-24 turnout for the general election in 2010 was only 40%, which suggests a high level of disengagement with politics on the whole.
However, this snap-election could suggest that the tides are turning, and there might be a much larger turnout than first assumed. Due to the popularity and constant usage of social media, young people have been able to gain more access and information about all the political parties and their leaders. As a result, politicians are now more than ever being held to account and are forced to be transparent about their policies. Everything from their voting records, to their expenses are available online – and so people are able to to judge them for their actions, and not just what the spin doctors publish in the papers.
This is especially relevant to the younger demographic, because this online exposure could encourage young adults to get involved in discussions, debates and voice their opinions as their democratic right. The 2016 EU Referendum turnout was unprecedented, with 64% of 18-24 year olds voting according to LSE. Although, this percentage is only from those who are registered to vote, so this figure isn’t as impressive as it seems. Despite this, it clearly shows that even with referendums, young people are starting to display more of an interest.
Although many are not doing the traditional door knocking and signing up to become members of a party, they are becoming increasingly vocal on social media, and attending televised debates to voice their grievances. It is forcing political parties to start paying attention to this demographic, as their turnout could swing the election result. Even on the registration deadline day, over 250,000 young people signed up last minute, which goes to show how important our voices are.
And now it is in our hands. As young adults, and as academics, it is crucial that we exercise our democratic right to vote and have a say in how our country is governed, as this directly affects our future. So if you love Tim Farron’s rhetoric of recalling Brexit, have faith in Theresa May’s plan to tackle terrorism, or are joyous over Jeremy Corbyn’s pledge to scrap tuition fees – just make sure that you go out and vote. Your vote does count, so stand in solidarity with the student population and make sure your voice is heard by voting in the General Election on Thursday 8th June.
By Elle Haywood
Editor of the Ruskin Journal 2017-2018
7th June 2017
Image Credit: Adobe Stock