Dear Ed Miliband, we are the 18-24 year olds and we could win the 2015 general election for you. If the election was tomorrow, Labour voters in our age group would out-vote the Conservatives more than 2:1. In general, we share your values; we are the most tolerant and open-minded corner of society. And - thanks to our much bemoaned internet use - we are a huge, untapped communications team. We are Labour party gold-dust. With our support, you will be Prime Minister next year.
Unfortunately, come May 7th, up to 74% of us might not bother showing up.
This is partly our fault. It is our duty and responsibility to vote and, admittedly, we have neglected that. But let's share the blame and admit that you direct your time and money campaigning to everyone in the country except us. Especially that hallowed 'middle ground' and the elderly since they are the ones who will get out of bed and go to the polling station.
So we find ourselves in the same frustrating circle. We don't vote - so you ignore us - so we don't vote, repeat ad infinitum.
It's not apathy. People like to throw that word around to suggest that we're lazy and uninterested in politics. Using the word 'apathy' is a sly way of putting the blame at our feet. So you suggest institutional changes like 'making it easier for the young to register' - which addresses none of the underlying problems but makes you feel like you've done something. Of course, we were just too lazy to register. That was it all along.
We care deeply about our future, our education, equality, immigration, the environment and the economy. Most of us feel the impact of these issues more than you ever will and we all have opinions about them. 71% of us want politics to be taught in schools so that we can be a part of this process. Don't tell us that we're not interested.
Our online newsfeeds are filled with debates about feminism and racism and gender issues and distribution of wealth and climate change (in between all the pictures of cats). We are debating and sharing these issues on a daily basis. This is our politics. But you're not there. Isn't that weird?
It is often said that politicians don't talk to us. It's true. You talk about us, you talk at us, you talk over us and yes, we're increasingly aware that we are going to have to clear up all of your mess. Oh, and we're still trying to figure out how the hell you got away with 'unpaid internships'. But these aren't the reasons we don't vote.
We don't vote because we don't know what you stand for and how that affects us. We have grown up in a culture of centre-ground politics where everyone looks the same and everyone sounds the same and everyone is saying more-or-less the same thing. So we don't know which one of you fights for what we believe in. It's as simple as that. Older generations have a vivid understanding of what it means to be Conservative or Labour. We don't.
We also admit that we could try harder to research the intricacies of your beliefs and positions. But you've made it really difficult for us to decipher. And to be honest, we've actually been very busy worrying about bullying, puberty and generally figuring out how to be an adult (spoiler alert: you never figure it out).
Look, we know that we're not 'owed' anything. And we do not feel 'entitled'. Of all the patronising 'think-pieces' on youth, this argument is the most nauseating. We are passionate and ambitious and we want to change the world. These are good qualities and ones that you should be using to your advantage. We are not owed your attention, but in this case Mr Miliband, it is in your interests to reach out to us.
Energising an entire generation will be hard so we don't blame you for ignoring the issue. But it must be easier than pretending to be the Tories all the time for the sake of a few middle-ground swing votes. That looks exhausting. We share your core values, which means you are already half way there. And we can identify with you - the sibling rivalry, the social awkwardness, the good heart.
So here's how you tip the balance and win us over.
Firstly: ISSUES. Just talk about issues and values. Big ones. Don't give us the intricacies of your proposed tax-system and stop mincing your words into a one-size-fits-all speech. Because when you say too much, you don't say anything at all. Take politics back to its core. What do you believe in? Gender equality, the environment, multiculturalism. Make big sweeping statements declaring what you think is right and wrong. Say them with conviction and you'll look like a true leader as well.
We'll start to take notice because big issues and emotional values are the things that matter to us. And we'll get behind you. We'll put a quote on a picture of your face and we'll put it all over Tumblr and Facebook and Twitter saying "THIS IS WHAT I BELIEVE. THIS IS WHO I AM AND THIS IS IMPORTANT TO ME." Because this is what we do. We define ourselves by our position on these issues and we like to tell people what those are. Plus we've got millions of Facebook friends who are forced to look at all the stuff we put online. It's free PR.
Even if we don't agree with you, we'll respect you because you'll mean it. And we'll debate. And then we'll vote because you've gotten us excited. We love to get behind big ideas and emotional campaigns. And we're already debating this stuff online every day. Which takes me to my second point.
Direct your campaign funds heavily into technology. Get deeper into the online conversation. The young vote will be won and lost on the internet. Online campaigning put Barack Obama in the White House. If you embrace it, it will elect you Prime Minister too.
Big, sweeping issues and using the internet doesn't trivialise politics. It takes it back to its core and it inspires debate.
The Conservatives relentlessly and unashamedly target the elderly vote. Come after us in the same way and we'll make so much noise that you won't be able to hear the door of Number Ten close behind you.Suggest a correction