Young people didn’t vote in the General Election for ‘free beer and other gimmicks’

The confused and cynical old critics are the ones who need to grow up

This election has seen a record number of students voting, with some pundits indicating that 72 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in yesterday’s General Election. By contrast, in 2015, only 43 per cent of young people voted.

However, our enthusiasm for politics has been confused as wanting “free beer and other gimmicks”, which were offered yesterday to those people who could prove they had voted.

I don’t know about but you, but I don’t know anyone aged 18-24 who voted for those reasons.

We voted out of genuine interest and not merely on a whim to get a free beer. Students realise who you vote for carries a lot more weight than simply enabling you freebies; it’s  insulting to pose this kind of argument, especially because it just isn’t true.

We aren’t treating our vote like a Freshers’ Fair at university, in which we sign up to random societies just for the sake of some free goodies. Young people are as politically aware as their elders – and if that scares them, so be it.

Neither is it just about tuition fees for all 18-24 year olds. As a student, you often get this label of being pro-Labour (even if you aren’t) on account of Corbyn pledging to scrap university tuition fees in time for September.

Lots of students realise that their lives are much more than a few years at university, and that we’re voting for other important issues that will impact us, such as taxation, the NHS and pensions.

In fact, many students recognise how detrimental abolishing tuition fees could be to the quality of university education and see through the allure of abolishing them, as this Tab Leeds writer reported – so don’t judge as all with the same thinking.

Young people were genuinely invested in this election. They campaigned, they felt inspired, and they voted accordingly. The student support for Labour in particular this Election was overwhelming.

Jeremy Corbyn acted as an inspiration for many and rejuvenated what was for them, an unrelatable Tory campaign in which Theresa May failed to address the masses, or endear them. These young people voted for a genuinely costed manifesto, which addressed a lot of their valid concerns.

Yet here are some of the reactions to the young vote online:

Young people’s enthusiasm for politics is a good thing. It means we’re invested in our futures and can begin to make informed decisions about them. Criticising people for having an opinion, simply because it doesn’t agree with your own, seems rather petty.

We voted because we’re invested in the results of this election. If you don’t like those results, young people aren’t the problem.

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