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UK General Election: Youth #votingforhope

United Kingdom

Young people demonstrating to show they are voting at McGill University Canada. Will they do the same in Britain? © Flickr user Adam Scotti

Young people don’t vote, we're told. It's time for you to prove them wrong, writes Jim Cranshaw.

Every day somebody in the establishment – the media, politicians, business owners – gets up, puts his or her coffee on, and works out how best to manipulate you.

We were told conclusively by nearly every journalist, in every publication, from the BBC to the Daily Mail to The Guardian, that Labour under Jeremy Corbyn was ‘unelectable’.

None of them explained how it was that they could see into the future. We were just supposed to shut up, and listen to them. After all, they sounded so certain.

But now with Survation – the only polling company to have got everything right recently – saying that there is one percentage point in it, those ‘experts’ were clearly wrong.

Labour may or may not win, but it’s clearly possible. So those crystal balls weren’t enchanted after all. They were just dumb lumps of crystal. Awkward!

Academic studies and, frankly, anyone with open eyes, could tell that the same people who didn’t want Corbyn to win were telling us that it was scientifically impossible that he could win. They used the mantra of unelectability almost as an attempt at mass hypnosis, and certainly as an attempt to create a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Lies are their currency. I went to a dinner party in which journalists from The Guardian, Buzzfeed, and other supposedly left wing publications all plotted how to remove Corbyn after the recent referendum. Some toyed with the idea that they should get one of his aides to write a resignation letter to The Guardian on his behalf. By the time he’d realized what had happened, they said, it would be too late! But none of the reality of what these people think or say to each other makes it into their columns or articles. Only disingenuous, slippery words for the idiots that they think we are.

Don’t be young

If you’re a young person it’s even worse. First they try and manipulate you. Then they ignore you. Then they ignore you some more.

Policies in this country are more and more skewed against the young. The last generation had free university tuition, better jobs, and could look forward to a pension. They didn’t have zero hours contracts, massive university debts, college closures and food banks.

That’s because young people don’t vote, we are told. It’s all your fault then, in other words. If you voted we would give a damn about you. Democracy forces us to treat you like rubbish.

Wow. Insult to injury. So it’s not, actually, the politicians’ fault when people don’t want to vote for them? It’s young people’s own fault!

It’s not the media’s fault that people’s eyes glaze over from the effort of trying to pick through the manipulation and lies to find out what is actually going on?

But this election is different. And it’s got them scared. Not only because the ‘unelectable’ Corbyn is polling better than Gordon Brown or Ed Miliband did. Not only because it turns out that people do read manifestos – if they’re any good – and Labour’s vote is climbing because of that. But because those ignored, apathetic young people are suddenly the most important people in the country.

Because the reason why some pollsters think the Conservatives are 1 per cent ahead, and some think 12 per cent ahead, is because they all estimate the likelihood of young people turning up to vote differently. When polling companies say that the Conservatives are only 1 per cent ahead, it’s because they think young people will turn up to vote. Not all of them, but as many of them as other age groups.

Now that is scary! Those people who voted for Brexit and who think that climate change isn’t real aren’t in the driving seat any more. Who is? That group of people who systematically pay more rent than generations before them – to the generations before them. That group who are seeing their environment destroyed and politicians failing to solve it. That group who have huge debts when they leave university, and who are getting angry. That group – the under 30s – who overwhelming support Labour and other progressive parties. It’s new, unexpected voters who scare them the most.

So if that’s you, this is not the year to sit this one out. You have a real choice for once, a choice to accept or reject the clear instructions of the establishment. Tell that person who tries to manipulate you after drinking the finest coffee to get lost, and use your vote.

Jim Cranshaw is part of a grassroots campaign called #votingforhope. The campaign is calling on voters aged below 30 to turn out to vote.

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