THE BLOG

Can Young People Really Swing This Election?

07/06/2017 12:01 BST | Updated 07/06/2017 12:01 BST
Anthony Bradshaw via Getty Images

After the 2015 General Election, last year's Brexit referendum and Trump's unexpected win in America, can we believe what the pollsters say anymore?

Last week ComRes published a poll giving the Conservatives a 12 point lead over Labour. Yet on the same day, YouGov published the first of its polls suggesting that Labour have cut the points deficit to the Conservatives to just 4 points.

This provoked Jim Messina, Theresa May's US consultant, to tweet that he had spent the day "laughing at another stupid poll from YouGov" and offering a charity bet that they had got it wrong.

In another statistic, around 75% of people aged 65 and over are predicted to cast their vote in this election; however only 42% of 18 to 24 year olds are predicted to do the same.

But YouGov's constituency estimates suggest that the Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, could actually lose her Hastings and Rye seat to Labour.

Trying to reconcile these figures together is difficult. And it's because there is an inherent bias against young people in the media and politics, which starts at the top. Some major parties (naming no names) pander to this - producing no campaign materials to increase the number of new voter registrations and making no efforts to get more young people to the polls.

Why? Because they know the opposite would hurt them.

Whether intentional or not, the calling of a snap General Election has of course compounded this problem. Youth charities have not had the time they usually would to produce materials and campaigns to mobilise more young people to take part in this election. And holding an election in the middle of the exam period is naturally going to reduce the chances of young people voting.

And yet, despite all of this, over a million 18 to 24 year olds have actually registered to vote before the 22 May deadline. This has sent the pollsters into a meltdown, producing wildly different pictures of the potential result. And it all boils down to expectation of turnout.

But never forget this - polls are wrong because we have the power to change them. According to recent reports, nearly two thirds of young people say they are "absolutely certain" they will vote in this General Election. We all, irrespective of our own personal beliefs, have a democratic duty to make sure this figure is even higher than it is.

Through our social action programmes my organisation, London Youth, firmly believe in our duty to encourage young people (working with those as young as 14) to make a difference in their community, empowering the leaders of tomorrow.

If you are a young person aged 18 and over, be energised by the fact you have the power to change the direction of this country for the next five years. Think about what you believe in and get out there on Thursday to draw that cross. And take the lead, be a role model - get your friends, networks, acquaintances and enemies alike to do the same.

And for everyone else, irrespective of your own political beliefs... If you believe in young people, if you believe that they should have their say and ensure the society they live in works for them, I urge you to do everything you can to get them out en mass on Thursday.