UK General Election: Youth #votingforhope


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.

Why won’t Adidas pay-up in Indonesia?

Adidas workers protest in Indonesia. Photo with permission from People & Planet.

Sportswear giant Adidas is fighting workers and campaigners who claim it owes a whopping $1.8 million to 2,800 former workers in Indonesia.

In 2011, the owner of the PT Kizone factory – which makes goods for Adidas as well as Nike and Dallas Cowboys – fled the country, leaving large debts and severance pay to workers outstanding. An Indonesian court ruled that the workers were owed $3.4 million in total.

Struggling to feed their families and pay rent, the workers called on their union, DPC, to fight for their money. Both Nike and Dallas Cowboys agreed with the union to pay their share, but Adidas are holding out.

Since then a coalition of Clean Clothes Campaign, People & Planet, United Students Against Sweatshops, War on Want and Labour Behind the Label have launched a campaign in support of the workers’ demands. 

Over the first weekend of December 2012, protesters hit the streets, gathering outside ‘Badidas’ stores in 20 cities across Britain and the US. Workers themselves protested in November outside Adidas’ offices in Jakarta, while another group crashed Adidas’ speech at a sustainable business event in London on 28 November.

Some 50,000 petition signatures and thousands of angry messages on the Adidas Originals Facebook page have caused further damage to the brand. And now, embarrassingly and expensively for Adidas, US universities have cut contracts worth well over $10 million.

So why are Adidas taking such a hit to avoid paying out pennies? The reason given by Adidas CEO Frank Henke ‘We do not agree… that a licensor [ie. Adidas] is obliged to remedy labour non-compliances by assuming the legal responsibilities of its contracted suppliers.’

Henke’s answer suggests that Adidas is not prepared to accept responsibility for the payment of workers in their supply chains, which is how much of their business is carried out.

But campaigners counter that the workers have been making millions for Adidas over the last ten years. Somebody has to pay for this. Should it be Adidas, who paid £100 million ($161 million) just to sponsor the Olympics, or workers who make pennies per hour?

Adidas knows what’s at stake if they pay up – it’s the thin end of the wedge for their business practices, and that’s why sometimes $1.8 million is worth a whole lot more.

To find out more about the campaign go to the People & Planet website.

Jim Cranshaw is a corporate power campaigner at People & Planet.

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