Over a million people have signed up to vote since Theresa May called the election. Of those people, approximately three quarters are under 40. The underdog party, Labour, has a strong lead over the Conservatives among under-40s, according to YouGov.
But May’s government now appears to be suppressing the youth vote. The Cabinet Office has slashed funding for organisations aiming to enfranchise young and marginalised people. As a consequence, campaign groups are warning that their resources are too stretched. The cabinet claims the funding will not be available this time because “the pre-election period has already begun”. People still have until 22 May to register to vote, though.
Young people could prove the polls wrong
At present, the Conservatives are leading over Labour in the polls. But polls are skewered towards older people. Polls like YouGov’s, for example, are weighted against the young. Because, based on recent history, they are less likely to vote.
But that could all change. 674,772 under-35s have applied to vote since May called the election.
Student support for Labour has leapt to 55% under Jeremy Corbyn, according to research from the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) and YouthSight. This is a huge increase. For comparison, student support for Labour sat at 35% towards the end of Ed Miliband’s leadership in 2015. And under Tony Blair in 2005, only 23% backed Labour.
The youth vote as a whole in the EU referendum was also promising. 64% of 18-to-24-year-olds voted, much higher than the 43% that voted in the 2015 general election. If this upwards trend continues, young people could deliver a huge surprise come 8 June. But whatever our age, this election is a massive opportunity. And we all need to get out there and exercise our democratic right.
– Register to vote in the 8 June general election. If you don’t have a national insurance number, a 5 minute phone call on 0300 200 3500 will get it sent to you in ten days.
– Discuss the key policy issues with family members, colleagues and neighbours. And organise! Join (and participate in the activities of) a union, an activist group, and/or a political party.
– Also read more Canary articles on the 2017 general election.
Featured image via UK Home Office