It's a cloudy Wednesday morning, and Nigel Farage is sailing down the River Thames on a boat that he's calling the 'Fishing Flotilla'. It's full of journalists and Union Jack deckchairs, and he's tied some balloons to it. He's being pursued by Bob Geldof, who has a boat, and a megaphone, and a speaker that's playing a sixties folk song on repeat. Some Scottish fishermen keep spraying him with hosepipes, and everyone is calling each other some very nasty names. Some Leave campaigners may or may not be trying to board Bob Geldof's boat. Nobody really knows what's going on.
There are probably people who think that this is all a really-quite-clever publicity stunt by the Leave campaign. There may well be people who think that this whole 'Battle of Brexit' is a great way to engage people with the EU Referendum, and there might even be people who think that this is a shining example of the passionate nature of British politics.
I hate to rock the boat, but I'm afraid that I'm not one of those people. I'm a twenty-year-old university student from the South-West of England, and I'm sick of this. I'm sick of the publicity stunts, of the rhetoric, and of both campaigns' repeated reluctance to just give us the cold, hard facts. I'm sick of the games, and I'm sick of being ignored.
I mean, is it any wonder that young people are becoming increasingly frustrated with the state of this country's government? It's not that we don't care about politics; over a million young people have registered to vote in the last three months alone, and Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party has more members under 27 than UKIP or the Lib Dems have in total membership. We're smart enough to know that this stuff really matters, and we're acutely aware that the result of the EU Referendum is going to affect us more than anyone.
So, yes, it's pretty clear that we do care. To put it bluntly, we just don't care for the bullshit. We want clear-cut and concise answers, not extended metaphors, and we want to know that our opinions are being both listened to and respected. At the moment, we feel like we're being ignored, and that our opinions don't matter. A recent YouGov survey found that many 18-30-year-olds view the Referendum as being little more than 'two groups of old white men shouting at each other'. To me, that's not good enough. If even a handful of Britain's young people feel that way, then it means that politicians aren't trying hard enough to speak to young voters.
It doesn't help that any attempts to reach out to us are either ridiculously patronising (like the Remain campaign's obscene #Votin video) or almost laughably half-hearted (like David Cameron's decision to visit Exeter University in the middle of the Easter holidays), either. Personally, I just can't understand it. David Cameron has gone on record as saying that a low turnout of young voters is his 'greatest concern' for this Referendum, and the majority of the mainstream media seem to agree that the youth vote is going to be the deciding factor on June 23rd. If getting young people engaged with politics matters so much to them, then why aren't they trying harder?
If I had a pound for every time a friend told me that 'politicians never listen to people like us', then I'd be a very rich man. I can't blame my friends for thinking like that, because there's a part of me that thinks it's true. I mean, how can I defend these 'old white men shouting at each other', when they've given me little to no evidence that they actually care about the opinions of young people? It's time for the politicians of this country to wake up and acknowledge that the voices of young people matter. Then - and only then - will we start to listen to them.Suggest a correction