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Do Any Political Parties Really Care About Young People?

01/02/2017 16:49 GMT | Updated 01/02/2017 16:49 GMT
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Here's a question for you: if you were a twenty-year-old student, which political party would you support?

Personally, I'm a Labour supporter. In fact, I'm more than that - I'm a fully-paid-up Labour Party member. Recently, though, I've been very tempted to cancel my membership.

Why? It's pretty simple, really. I've yet to be impressed by Jeremy Corbyn's leadership. I think that the Labour Party needs a strong, principled leader, and one who's willing to scrutinise everything the Conservatives do in the months and years leading up to Brexit. So far, I've seen little evidence of this from Corbyn.

Heck, you know what? It pains me to say it, but even Gary Lineker has been a more effective opposition to the Conservatives than Jeremy Corbyn.

So, why haven't I cancelled my membership and cut up the little red card that's currently sitting in my desk drawer?

Well, as a young person who cares about politics, I like to be a member of whichever party I'm supporting. I guess you could say that I like to put my money where my mouth is. Trouble is, there's just not another political party that I agree with enough to want to join.

As a matter of fact, I actually think that a lot of other young people have got the same problem. There's no longer an 'obvious' political party for us.

In the past, it was the Liberal Democrats. On the surface, they seem like a good choice for the modern-day young person. They care about the environment, they've pledged to support mental health services, and they want to give a hell of a lot of money to the NHS. The only problem, though, is that a lot of us still haven't really forgiven them for their coalition-era tuition fee U-turn. We can't trust them, and that's a major issue.

There are problems with the Conservative party, too. Their decision to not ban unpaid internships when they had the chance was, on the whole, not a popular one, and their choice to raise tuition fees was the final nail in the coffin for a lot of previously-sympathetic young people.

As for Labour? Well, I've already talked about my personal problems with the Labour Party, and I know that I'm not alone in thinking that Jeremy Corbyn's leadership leaves a lot to be desired.

I'm not writing this to moan about having to choose between political parties, though. I'm writing this to point out that this lack of choice is the reason why a fair few young people couldn't care less about politics.

If there's not a party for us, then why should we care? The rhetoric of 'politicians are all as bad as each other' is a tired one, but in this case it seems to ring true. Who are the party for the youth? Do any of them really have the best interests of this country's young people at heart? We're forced to choose between a handful of uninspiring leaders, and to pick a party based on who we think will screw us over the least. To me, that doesn't seem good enough.

Every party has its own policies, but none of them seem to cater for the youth. We care about issues like minimum wage parity, paid internships, affordable education, and improving access to mental health services - why aren't any of the major political parties pushing to rectify these issues?

Well, here's why.

Political parties have traditionally rarely cared about young people, because young people don't tend to vote. Why don't we vote? Well, that'll be because nobody's representing our interests, and nobody's representing our interests because there are no votes in it. It's a vicious cycle, and one that's not going to be halted unless something changes.

In short, we need a mainstream political party to stand up and fight for this country's young people. Who should this be? How should it be done? Frankly, I'm not sure. There is one thing I'm sure about, though: something has to be done, otherwise the British political system is genuinely at risk of alienating an entire generation of would-be voters.

Should the Conservatives do more to engage young people? Do you think that Jeremy Corbyn is the best thing since sliced bread? I'm on Twitter - let's have a chat.