Thursday 8th June 2017. Was this the day that the youth made their voices heard within the political world? Was this the first time for many years that young people changed the landscape of British politics? Was this the time that the ‘disillusioned millennials’ finally stepped up and had their say?
These were all questions thrown up by media outlets throughout the country following the dramatic general election earlier this year. Prime Minister Theresa May, along with her “strong and stable” government, threw away a parliamentary majority in an election that followed suit from a year of crazy political surprises. The leader that stole so many votes from the Conservatives? Jeremy Corbyn.
However, whilst it is perfectly acceptable to argue that Corbyn and Labour got so many votes due to both excellent campaigning on their own side and an awful Tory campaign, it is impossible to argue with the results. Despite all of these questions, all of the media hype, all of the madness… Labour did not win the election, either.
But this article is not about debating the results of an election. Nor is it focussed on slating a particular party. This piece is looking to examine Jeremy Corbyn’s popularity amongst – you guessed it – younger voters.
It is undeniable that Corbyn managed to push many previously politically inactive young people straight into a voting booth. Do not be mistaken by this previous inactivity, though. As an article published in Exeposé earlier this year highlighted: “These views [of seeing no point in voting] reflect not ignorance or idiocy, but a learned discontent with the current political system”. That is to say, politicians and politics as a whole have either neglected the needs of younger voters or have down-right lied to them. This, understandably, results in the youth of today becoming ever increasingly disillusioned with politics. That was, until Mr. Corbyn stepped in.
It is undeniable that Corbyn managed to push many previously politically inactive young people straight into a voting boot
This is exactly where all the problems begin. To cut to the chase – the popularity that Corbyn gained amongst these discontented young voters throughout the 2017 campaign is being put solely down to the pledge of wiping tuition fees. Despite the countless amounts of other policies and promises made by the Labour party, this is the one idea that keeps being referred to as the key to his success. It is particularly an issue being raised regarding university towns and cities, just like ours.
Before I go on, I want to emphasise now that I am in no way suggesting, implying or insinuating that this policy had no part to play in his rise amongst young people, particularly students. It would be ignorant to suggest that is the case. But, in the same way, the ignorance of the people who honestly believe that students have no other motive to vote for Corbyn and Labour than the potential of the removal of tuition fees is astounding.
I am a prime example. I voted for Labour in the election and I do not believe that tuition fees should be removed. Undoubtedly there needs to be a reform of some kind – which I have various ideas on, but that’s for another article – but ousting all fees is, in my opinion, not the way forward. Yet, I still voted for Labour and Corbyn. The motivation behind this lies in many areas of their manifesto. An increase in tax for the top 5% of earners and raising corporation tax, to me, seems like a fairer society would result. Their proposed plans for the education sector were the most sensible and likely to be the most effective.
An increase in tax for the top 5% of earners and raising corporation tax, seems like a fairer society would result
The ideas behind increasing affordable housing and helping first time buyers to get onto the property ladder is something that, as a young person, is particularly appealing. Even if, as it has been said, Corbyn was unable to deliver on some of these pledges, I would feel much happier having a government with this mindset of helping people than the alternatives that are on offer. Exeter as a whole provides another example, being held by Labour for many years without the promise of wiping fees.
I tell you this not to convince you to vote for Labour, or to like Jeremy Corbyn or to even agree that these policies are the best for the country. The great thing about a democracy like ours is that we can have disagreements and debates on these topics, and I have no intention of changing your political views through an article. These points are made for the sole purpose of exemplifying that there are more reasons why young people would vote Labour than simply issues around tuition fees. Its not an act of selfishness, but a political ideology that believes in an alternative to the struggles we have faced as a country.
Corbyn spoke to young people and young voters in a way that no politician has for years. He offered a vision of hope that in the bleak future that we face through Brexit, with no capability of buying our own home and facing a privatised NHS amongst many, many other things doesn’t have to become a reality. For the first time since I can remember, a politician has put forward an idea of change. A genuine and legitimate idea of change. Those who shout about Corbyn only receiving student votes due to tuition fee promises, are not only insulting young people like me, who are not so politically inept or inactive as many people suspected, but they are also just plain wrong.