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2017 Has Brought The Political Revenge Of The Young - British Politics Will Have To Take Notice

09/06/2017 16:07
Bloomberg via Getty Images

Since the 2010 election nearly every vote that I have participated has ended in defeat and despair. From the coalition, to Cameron's majority to Brexit. Nearly every political decision has gone against not only my own wishes, but also that of an entire demographic; the young.

For far too long, elected politicians have poured scorn on the demands of young people. Tuition fees have have ballooned. Housing benefit for the under-21s has been slashed. Affording a first home is out of reach for many young people. The minimum wage is unbearably low. Brexit has curtailed young people's ability to study, work, live and love across Europe, and for our European counterparts to do the same in Britain. Young people are furious, and now they are enacting their political reprisals.

Nearly a quarter of a million young people registered to vote on the deadline. Turnout appears to have swelled from 43% in 2015 to 66.4% (and some estimations have it as high as 72%) in 2017.

The chasm between the ideals of the young and the old is overwhelmingly stark in Britain. Old people, voting in greater number have dragged this country out of Europe towards an anti-immigrant, inward-looking, lonely place in the world. Young people have overwhelmingly voted for the opposite. Resentment has been building up for years as many politicians and older generations patronised, labelled and belittled a whole generation.

The right-wing press, who for so long have been able to dictate the terms of our elections with their reach and standing will be stunned. They can be as vitriolic about a Labour leader as they like. The problem remains; young people don't read them.

Jeremy Corbyn seized the electoral potential. He invigorated millions of young people that may have never voted before. He created a manifesto that was not only positive and optimistic, but that catered to the concerns of the young. He didn't pander to mudslinging, he didn't cower away from debates and he evoked a passion for politics in some of the hardest to reach corners of society. That instigation has been repaid with an electoral performance that very few people could have predicted seven weeks ago.

Ella Guthrie, a journalist who works for My Life My Say, a campaign group for a better Brexit for young people told me that ''the thing that was different about the election this time round is how much formal politics, the media and the Labour Party, in particular, wanted to involve young people because they saw where the potential lay. Young voters were actively encouraged instead of demonised. The youth are far from lazy, they were just disengaged, but the shock of this election result means that hopefully they'll see when they stand up, things can change. ''

Politicians have been made to pay. Nick Clegg, whose infamous u-turn on tuition fee rises enabled the coalition government in 2010 has been chastised for his betrayal of young people. According to Owen Jones ''few did as much to undermine young people's faith in politics'' as Clegg. He is now out of a job. This in a constituency that has never before in its history been a Labour seat. Young people made that happen.

Young people didn't vote for Brexit, and it's thanks to young people turning up to vote in such numbers that Theresa May casts a forlorn and diminished figure in British politics. Her majority has vanished. She has gone from 'strong and stable' to 'barely able'.. Who says voting doesn't make a difference?

I feel immensely proud of my peers, and the levels of political engagement amongst them has been stunning. I am also glad that this engagement has been rewarded and that our unfair political system didn't make those votes count for nothing. Young people have only just started to deliver their revenge, and with this momentum behind them the future of British politics is beginning to be dictated by just that; the future.

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