By: Jude Waites, 16, studying History, Politics and Maths at AS. @JudeWaites.
|Credit: Stronger IN/ Facebook|
In 2014, the Scottish Independence referendum signalled a newfound surge for youth engagement in politics, youth importance in politics and youth suffrage. 80% of 16-17 year-olds voted, and while the vast majority voted for independence; their role – the youth’s role – became more significant in politics than ever. Two years on, one is presented with a similar situation to that of two years ago. Even though those 16 and 17 were denied the right to vote in a referendum that will have a profound impact on their lives the most, the power of the young vote still holds the key to victory.
The biggest issue within politics in the UK is the way the youth are constantly seen as horrendously apathetic, and the way governments seem to exploit such an ‘I-don’t-care’, teenage-hormonal attitude to politics through tuition fees and so forth. Frankly, the youth are the most important area a campaign can appeal to, simply because the potential for influencing the views of those under 29 are staggering – unaligned to a single view or party, they are a blank canvass ready to be attacked with political paint. The younger generation have the potential to be a canvassing force, being able to relate to those their age and apply ‘boring’ decisions to the world they are growing up in. In a sense, they are political dominoes; once a few are pushed, the rest go in the same direction too.
Utilising such abilities is, as many an election campaign will tell you is no easy task – youth turnout, despite a great emphasis from both sides of the House dropped by 1% from 2010 (from 44% to 43%). However, the youth, me being one of them, are greatly susceptible to a simple argument, and this is why the Stronger In campaign must take advantage of them.
In order to engage young people, we must put it as an argument where we ‘get stuff’, as opposed to one where we ‘lose stuff’. We get £10 for every £1 we spend in the EU. We get 3 million jobs. We save £350 a year. The Leave campaign’s argument is based upon mild xenophobia and the long, complicated point over EU ‘bureaucracy’ – young people do not care about long-winded ‘who runs what’ arguments, they do not care about how many migrants enter our country: young people care about what we get. We’re materialistic, you see?
In that sense, the youth is an open goal; an open opportunity for Stronger In to flex its muscles in order to create a debate that appeals to those least likely to vote.
A turnout in the referendum above 60% will favour the in campaign – backers of Brexit are much more passionate, much more set on opinion and much more likely to vote. 20% of the UK’s population are aged from 18-29. Up to two-thirds of young people support staying in the EU, and while making the young people that that do so turn out to vote on the 23rd of June is the difficult task, Stronger In must take it by the scruff of the neck.
Appealing to young people is key to success for the IN campaign Reviewed by Student Voices on 12:48 Rating: