16 February 2016

Why Young People Don't Vote

Young people don’t vote. We all know this. For years, political commentators, politicians and parents have been discussing this phenomenon but nobody seems to decide why this is the case. Though everyone has their own opinion on the topic, it’s usually just the first thought that pops into their mind. The most common theories seem to be that young people are fed up with liar politicians, their votes don’t matter and, young people simply do not care.

However as a young voter, I have big problems with the first two theories. Firstly, the generation of young people currently eligible to vote would need to have some sort of political interest in the first place in order to suggest that they are fed up with the lying from politicians. Moreover, to suggest that they are ‘fed up’ with their lies would mean that they will have followed politics for some time in order to express such an opinion. Becoming fed up of something usually takes a lot of time and therefore they would need to have followed politics since their high school days. This is not the case for most young people. To address the second point: Again, some sort of political interest would need to be existent to exclaim that their votes wouldn't matter. I strongly disagree that most young people hold  some sort of grassroots interest in politics in the beginning.

The third theory is closer than the first two. I would agree that the majority of young people do not care but I don’t put that down to any sort of political apathy because again that would mean some kind of interest. How can one be apathetic about something that they don’t care about or hold an interest in? Apathy and caring are completely different. As I explain in the book, the current generation of young people do not care due to an honest lack of interest and not political apathy. Nor as many political commentators suggest, disillusionment/disenfranchisement. The honest lack of interest is linked to the age in which we live and the technology available to young people when growing up. I call this ‘Blair’s Generation’ or ‘Blair’s Children’.

The current generation of 18-24 year olds (including myself) grew up under the watchful eye of Tony Blair and New Labour. Whilst in power, he oversaw an increase and expansion of technology never seen on that scale before. Blair’s children have never known a world without the World Wide Web, computer games, mobile phones and instant messaging. To add to that, Blair’s children entered puberty at the same time as the birth of the rapid popularity and insurgence of social media. Combined, the digital age oversaw a lead sheet block out politics for Blair’s generation and make it so unneeded in the world of IM that the majority of 18-24 year olds are now honestly impartial on the topic. Politics doesn't enter the sphere of interest for young people anymore and has been put to the back of the cupboard or the top shelf. 

The rise of Corbynmania and his leadership victory made many come out and suggest that they have enlightened a generation of young people who were thought to have been lost. However, I completely disagree. The majority of young people who support Jeremy Corbyn were already politically active and/or held political interests prior to his rise to candidacy and leadership. Both the Labour party and the Greens already had a lot of young support. The reason for the apparent young surge is because they had the chance to pay a mere £3 in order to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Suddenly a bombardment of young people appeared from nowhere. However, these people already existed. They just didn't join before. It’s common that young people are socialists. Hence the support for Corbyn and the Greens during the Green surge earlier last year. It does not mean that suddenly young people all over the country are enlightened and are interested in politics. These apparent new supporters are part of the 45 per cent that already vote.

‘Why Young People Don’t Vote’ is out 25th March 2016. Pre-order on Amazon today for £9.99 or (£7.19 Amazon Kindle).

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