No matter what side of the debate you’re on, or if you participated at all, it’s clear that Brexit has divided Britain. Across the UK, communities have had lines drawn in the sand on where to stand on this momentous issue. Those that did vote in the referendum still continue to argue over the various aspects surrounding it. Issues such as whether we should remain in the single market, immigration and more still remain heavily debated. However, there’s one demographic that has had little to no representation during this event, and it’s young people. Despite the increased turnout of the younger generations in this referendum, many of them believe that the proposed policies aren’t representative of their needs.
Why the sudden call for more youth representation?
No matter which side of the debate you stand on, Remain or Leave, one aspect both sides can agree is that Brexit will hit the younger generations the hardest. With recent graduates already struggling to secure a job as well as deal with steep housing prices, it’s only going to get harder. Hence why young voters, both remain and leave, feel severely under-represented as to what will happen with the Brexit negotiations. Without proper representation, young adults feel they have no say in the Brexit process. Despite being the demographic most affected by it.
In the wake of this outcome, young voters have taken it upon themselves to take a more positive stance to Brexit. Rather than advocating for a second referendum or for Brexit be stopped, the Undivided movement seeks to find a positive impact on Brexit for the younger generation. By incorporating views presented by youths who voted remain, leave or couldn’t vote, they aim to represent all young voter’s interests. Through holding polls on their site, young people aged 15 to 29 can vote on particular policies and what they want to see from Brexit. These polls show what exactly the participants agree and disagree on, and to what extent. For example, on the topic of climate change, an overwhelming majority of participants favored that the UK maintained their climate policy. Similarly, a majority of participants opposed implementing a point-based system for immigration. You can find more of their polls in their manifesto here.
So why isn’t there more youth representation?
Admittedly, there are some valid reasons as to why younger voters don’t get as much representation as other demographics. First of all, despite many young adults being registered voters, many young potential voters end up not voting. As this article in the Independent points out here. Only a projected 36% of the 18-24 category turned up to vote in the referendum. Assuming this projected percentage is somewhat correct, that’s over 60% of an entire voter base abstaining. The turnout was even less during the last general election, with only around 20% turning up to vote.
Because of these low turnouts, it’s understandable as to why parties don’t have young voters in mind. To parties, it makes more sense to base their policies on enticing older voters instead. This is because they are simply more likely to turn up to vote. It made no sense for parties to gamble on a possible youth vote turn out, then a definite older vote.
To provide context, as seen during the referendum and the election prior to that, the highest turnout is reported to be that of older generations from 30 and up. While younger people seemed more interested, as seen with various posts made on social media made by young people, especially during Brexit. However, despite the high expectations created by the buzz on social media, the resulting turnout from younger voters was disappointing, to say the least. To make matters worse those that didn’t vote ended up embarrassing those that did by staging protests against the result. This must change.
The winds of change
One thing that is clear about this upcoming snap election, however, is that there will be more young voters. The effect Brexit has had on this young demographic is nothing more than extraordinary. There is definitely going to be more of a young voter turn-out this election than ever before. This is a chance for young voters makes their choice truly heard. As well as incentivise political parties to see us as a viable voter base.
What we do want to avoid, however, is for us to be considered a laughing stock. Whether you agree with whoever wins the election or not, do not protest it if it’s a fair game. If the candidate won fairly then there’s no reason to not respect the vote. If you don’t vote and don’t like the result then you’ll only have yourself to blame. Unless something sketchy was done then any protest against the result will only make you look foolish. So we need to get it right first time.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this article and found it informative. We’ve got tons more on politics and brexit, so check out our article on the things to know about politics!