How to get young people to vote

How to get young people to vote

VOTESBYWOMEN_V25

Feeling saddled with a big student debt, Jessica Allen, 22, will take a lot of persuading to vote Conservative. But how could the other parties win her support?

First, start with a healthy dose of Brexit. It’s no secret that young people between the ages of 18 and 24 voted overwhelmingly to Remain in the EU. That’s got more young people discussing politics now than ever before in our lifetimes.

This could be the answer to improving voter turnout among young people, which has steadily decreased over the past few years due to apathy and policies like the rise of tuition fees. We’re angry and we want to do what we can to stop the Tories from getting the hard Brexit and unrealistic immigration controls they seem set on (with 400,000 foreign students paying hefty tuition fees in the UK, getting net immigration down to the tens of thousands would cripple universities).

Then you need to start talking policies that’ll get young people interested. I hate to break it to you, Tories, but young people don’t really care whether there’s a double or triple lock on pensions. Or maybe you know we’ll never forgive you for Brexit and the tripling of tuition fees so you just don’t care.

Lib Dems are doing better with their manifesto, promising a second referendum before the deal is finalised and sprinkling in some soundbites about wanting to legalise cannabis and put a decent tax on it. Offering to help first-time buyers get on the housing ladder makes their chances of getting some votes a bit higher, but maybe only among young voters who have smoked enough cannabis to forget how many 18-24s voted Lib Dem in 2010, getting them into coalition with the Tories on the promise that tuition fees wouldn’t rise above £3,000 – only for them to treble, screwing over a whole generation of young people who are now graduating university with at least £27,000 of debt. (The rest of us have concluded that politicians don’t care about us and want nothing more to do with the Lib Dems other than making songs out of pithy Nick Clegg apologies.)

Labour also seem set on engaging young people introducing policies like lowering the voting age to 16 (which would have almost certainly prevented Brexit); abolishing tuition fees for good and bringing back the maintenance grants so many students appreciated; and reintroducing housing benefit for 18-21 year olds.

The Greens’ manifesto isn’t out yet, but they want to remain in the EU, have education for all, and have safe and affordable homes (all big pluses for young kiddies).

You might want to commit to gender equality. While the Tories’ target market seem to want to take us all back to the 1970s, young voters want to celebrate diversity in every size, shape and form. That makes Labour policies like extending maternity leave and legally recognising transgender folk music to our ears.

Those who live in seats where the Women’s Equality Party are standing are also interested in their ideas, like calling for more transparency on the gender pay gap and a zero tolerance policy on discrimination at work.

Optional: try to get the media to have some form of dislike for you or your party. Don’t give the press pool any decent soundbites, choosing instead to speak about your values in front of very large crowds all over the country, like a true socialist. We like the feeling we’re challenging the Establishment which hasn’t done us any favours lately.

Think about having a leader cult. We had the Milifandom and now we have the Corbynistas. Creating a great social media presence is key – you could do this by confronting other party leaders on Facebook Live videos, or helping create memes.

JME and JC

Get the right celebrity endorsements. Last year, Shut Up star Stormzy called Corbyn “My man” in an interview with The Guardian. Novelist joined the Labour Party last year and tweeted about it. And at the weekend, grime star JME paired up with Jezza to encourage young people – and especially the black youth community – to register to vote, and then vote Labour. They even plastered it on Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter, and a surprisingly catchy beat called Corbyn Riddim appeared on Soundcloud,with Corbyn listed as a member of grime label Boy Better Know on Wikipedia. Danny DeVito also backed Corbyn publicly this week – big news everywhere.

You might also consider becoming one of the people. Be like Jeremy and get the train and bus (nope, not the battle bus). Hold up massive speakers on your shoulders to make sure your mates’ speeches are heard. Ask the questions of real people at Prime Minister’s Questions. And don’t forget to spend time in your constituency fighting for local issues.

Overall, these steps have a greater chance of grabbing the youth vote in the three weeks we have until the country goes to the polls – as long as they’re registered to vote first. Remember, you have until 22 May to register at gov.uk/register-to-vote and it takes two minutes.

Jessica Allen is the founder and editor of Grrrl Power magazine. Find her on Twitter @ImJessicaAllen and Votes By Women @votesbywomen

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