No political party represents me or young people right now
If there was a general election tomorrow I have no idea who I’d vote for
If there was a general election announced tomorrow there is no one and no political party I would want to vote for. No political party seems to actually care about young people and the problems facing us. This feeling is the same amongst many young people in the UK.
Young people are less likely to vote than older people. In the 2019 General Election only 54 per cent of 18-24 year olds voted whereas 70 per cent of 45-54 year olds, 72 per cent of 55-64 year olds and 77 per cent of people 65 and over voted in the election. But why do so few young people vote? It’s not because we don’t want to, it’s because we feel that there is no political party worth voting for.
Young people have always been less likely to vote – it isn’t a new trend. But in 2021 the main reason seems to be that there is no party that seems to care about young people or the matters that are important to us. Izzy, a recent graduate told The Tab: “None of them [political parties] speak to us and none of them speak for us.”
The coronavirus pandemic has only exacerbated issues young people have with political parties. The pandemic has had a disastrous effect on people’s mental health. Young people have struggled during the pandemic, YoungMinds found that 67 per cent of people aged 13-25 believed the pandemic will have a long-term negative effect on their mental health.
University students have felt particularly let down by the government. The lack of support during the pandemic for students taking exams, university students, recent graduates trying to find jobs and just young people in general has led to a feeling that the government doesn’t care about us. The government has often blamed us for rises in coronavirus cases and we are often used as a scapegoat to cover up the wrongdoings of the government. Many young people feel as though they cannot vote for the Conservatives given how they’ve acted during the pandemic. But are Labour any better?
University students will continue to suffer as a result of the UK government's incompetence and neglect. So many of us are graduating in 5/6 months time and we're going into pure darkness – totally unequipped for our future. I have never felt so deflated in my life.
— georgia mooney (@_georgiamooney_) January 19, 2021
Labour has traditionally been the party that young people feel most drawn to. However, we are becoming increasingly frustrated with Keir Starmer and the uncertainty surrounding what and who he stands for. Unlike his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, Starmer has been unable to mobilise Labour’s young voters.
A YouGov poll from 12th April 2021, shows that only 18 per cent of 18-24 year olds think Keir Starmer is doing “well” as leader of the Labour Party. Young people are now leaving the Labour Party – a stark contrast from the surge in Labour membership during Jeremy Corbyn’s time as leader. But why? Alice told The Tab that she doesn’t believe Keir Starmer speaks for young people, and she might be right. During the height of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement in 2020, Keir Starmer described it as a “moment” and dismissed support for calls to defund the police by calling them nonsense. Given that young people turned out overwhelming for BLM protests, this caused widespread concern amongst young Labour voters.
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer tells #BBCBreakfast it’s "a shame" the sentiment behind the Black Lives Matter movement is getting “tangled up with these organisational issues" and it’s "nonsense" to call to ‘Defund the Police’. pic.twitter.com/7ydITWGZWN
— BBC Breakfast (@BBCBreakfast) June 29, 2020
There are smaller parties that do have policies that appeal to young people such as the Green Party. However, it is unlikely that these parties will ever win enough seats to form a government. Therefore, a vote in an election in the UK is a vote for either a Labour or Conservative government. But these parties do not care about us and do not hold policies that cater to the concerns of young people. So what now?