UK Snap Election: Why Young People Should Be Bothered

Ella Guthrie /
Apr 18, 2017 / Opinion

As if Brexit wasn’t enough, Theresa May has decided to call a snap election on June 8th, one which those in any party apart from the conservatives are starting to fret will be impossible to win.

While some (on both sides) are celebrating what is sure to be Corbyn’s downfall, most of us are sat back wondering what the fuck is going on. But that’s exactly the poisonous mentality that would lead the tories straight to victory for god knows how long – free to continue with their dismantling of the NHS and escalate university fees even further.

When I heard the news my social media was awash with opinion. Granted, I have a lot of politically active friends on my Facebook having done a political degree – and just generally involving myself in political issues – but a lot of what I saw was more along the lines of ‘Why Bother?’ A particularly painful referendum and many years of being labelled the apathetic generation later, the expectation for young people not to get involved is taking it’s toll. Most political parties nowadays simply don’t resonate with young people, I know for a fact that most of my peers find it difficult to bother voting, since they all seem a bit shit.

Demonisation of the youth has been rampant in formal politics, be it a poll suggesting only 24% of young people voted in the referendum (in reality it was more like 60%) or general labels of lazy, apathetic and uninterested. The media seems to forget that they marched in their thousands to protect their right to an affordable higher education, against Trump and have been involving themselves in more social action campaigns than ever before. The use of social media to speak out about injustices is rife – while the older generation might scoff at the use of twitter, trending hashtags that spark conversation and discussion around important issues which goes some way towards mobilisation.

But, as always, May wants to confuse us all. She’s taking a step back from arguably the most important decision of our generation to essentially obliterate Corbyn and his merry momentum men (and women), which in turn would give her just the right mandate to pursue a steel alloy brexit as hard she damn well pleases.

May knows that this election could alienate young voters, and wants to use that to her advantage. The referendum vote was timed to coincide with Glastonbury and this will land slap bang in the middle of exams for a lot of students. Not to mention that people are sick and tired of making the most important political decision of their lives – especially when they don’t seem to be winning any of them. The referendum was pretty scarring, and 75% of young people voted for the losing side. Now, as most of them will lean to the left, they’re realising they’re most likely to lose this one too. You can hardly blame young people for having little faith in politics, especially considering the amount of times May has flip flopped (her backbone is so bent she should consider doing yoga) but, if you don’t participate you’re just going to sit back and squirm while the tories sail to an easy victory.

In reality there are a lot of ways this election could go, if it happens at all. Due to the Fixed Term Parliament Act the PM no longer has the power to just ‘call an election’ – the right to do so should be voted on with two thirds of MP’s agreeing, calling for some serious collaboration between Labour and Conservatives. If an election is held, there are a lot of ways the voting patterns could sway against conservative seats, and the keen among us have already started researching how and why this could be possible.

But surprise, surprise, this requires actually voting. For too long young people have been content with chilling in the margins, whereas the potential they have to sway a vote is monumental, and according to the electoral commission, 3 out of 10 under 24 year olds aren’t even registered to vote. Although it might seem tiring and tedious, registering to vote and actually doing so is the most powerful tool we have to participate in politics. I wouldn’t let it go too easily.

Get Volume #17 here.

Words by Ella Guthrie

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