How to keep Young People Politically Engaged after the Snap Election
It is a common misconception that young people simply aren't interested in Politics or what it has to offer. However, no one ever seems to question what are politicians doing to appeal to young people to keep them interested in politics in the first place.
March 2018 - Initially published on The Chalkboard Journal
Shona Leigh Pope
Nearly a year on from the Snap Election in June, and people are still suffering from voter fatigue; Brexit almost doesn’t seem like a real word anymore and the idea of even attempting to vote in the upcoming elections to the majority of people will sound entirely exhausting. It seems that grasping on to people’s attentiveness will be harder than ever in the upcoming months.
That being said, after the fantastic turnout of young voters in the election, surely now is the time to address the young people and finally acknowledge that they are politically engaged?
Rather than simply assuming that young people refuse to turn their attention towards political activity, we need to address the issue regarding the lack of faith young people in Britain have in politics and a lack of effort on politicians' behalf to do anything about it.
In 2015, those aged 18-24 were almost half as likely to vote as those aged 65 and over.
In the 2017 Snap Election, however, Labour ran a successful campaign specifically addressing issues surrounding young people in their manifesto; In particular, Issues such as the rising cost of Student fees teamed up with a promise to abolish them.
The campaign itself also cleverly used music events to directly address young people, creating a hype surrounding the election which eventually moved online and was regularly discussed among young people.
According to YouGov, 58% of 18-24-year-olds used their votes in June. Nevertheless, despite this number increasing significantly, 18-24-year-olds still had the lowest turnout out of every registered age group.
81% of those aged 60 and overused their votes during the election. More young people are raising their voices, but more can be done to ensure they remain politically engaged.
If the turnout of young people in voting booths continued to increase in future elections, Politics in Britain could be given the jolt it so desperately needs. Instead of relying on the grey vote, more parties in Britain should be doing more to approach younger potential voters.
So what can we do to ensure young people stay politically active?
We need a Voice
As a young person who voted in the election, I believe that voter turnout among young people in Britain increased because we felt like we finally had a voice.
We felt as though we were being acknowledged; that our issues were being addressed and therefore we had a reason to use our vote.
The Labour party primarily addressed these issues in their campaign, now we need someone to continue this momentum and stand for young people in Britain.
We need to build more hype surrounding the party's youth wings, do more to show what is on offer for those who get involved, show young people what they can do. Several parties already have a youth wing, with the Labour Parties youth wing being the most active on social media. Many young people are still unaware that these youth wings even exist.
An obvious answer would be to Continue developing political activity online. Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party were both trending on the day of his speech at the Glastonbury festival. Creating this kind of buzz allows young people to easily interact and engage online.
Another way online engagement can be utilized includes contact with party members. Once you've joined a political party, the main form of contact is through the post or email. Whereas they are missing out on an opportunity to utilize social media and gain more support from young people in Britain.
We need a platform across a wider range of Political Perspective.
Now that Labour has created a base for young Labour voters to get involved, other political parties need to follow suit.
Regardless of your political stance, a wider range of political youth platforms will encourage more young people to get involved and will provide a more democratic space for them to work, debate, develop and share ideas.
Once young people realize that their issues are being addressed from a range of different perspectives, that will encourage them to gain more faith in British Politics, and finally addressing the concern surrounding the lack of trust in each party.
We reached a milestone in the Snap Election in June. Young people are politically engaged and are more engaged now than they have been in years. But now is the time to build upon this, and ensure their concerns are addressed and issues surrounding them are raised.