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Why The Young Must Get Out And Vote Come 8 June

19/04/2017 12:07
Anthony Bradshaw via Getty Images

Go online and it's not hard to find pages of articles on how the baby boomer generation has screwed over the millennial generation.

Where once going to uni was free, it now sets you back nine grand a year.

When once upon a time you could buy a house in London for under £100,000, it's now likely to cost you half a million quid and a 20% deposit.

While it is tempting to point the finger of blame at our parents and the older generation for passing on a bad hand, there is one area where the younger generation has to take some blame.

And that's voting.

In the UK, people aged between 18-24 years old make up around 10% of our population. People aged over 65 make up around 17% of the population.

But analysis following the 2010 General Election showed that while 94% of people aged over 65 were registered to vote, and 90% of people aged 55-64 were registered, only 55% of people aged 18-24 were registered.

In 2010, only 44% of registered 18-24 year olds voted. 76% of over 65s voted.

And this matters.

Talking about election campaigns, back in 2015, now London Mayor Sadiq Khan candidly admitted that, "if you've got a candidate with an hour spare and a choice to go to an old people's home or a sixth-form college, 99% of campaign managers will say you've got to go to an old people's home. That's because 94% of them are on the register and 77% of them will vote. That is not true of the younger generation."

It's why, while the Government is set to allow tuition fees to rise once again, it maintains a 'Triple Lock' protection system for pensions which costs the country billions of pounds a year.

Older people vote. So governments and political parties tailor policies to appeal to them.

Forgot about signing that online petition, or feeling good about sharing that Facebook post or tweeting with that hashtag - the one guaranteed way to make politicians take notice and start implementing policies that help you, is to vote!

It's why organisations like Bite the Ballot are doing such important work in getting more young people engaged in politics.

And it's why I'm backing a move to make it mandatory for universities and other higher education institutions to offer their students the option to be added to the electoral register at the point of enrolment and re-registration.

Baroness Janet Royall, a peer in the House of Lords, successfully tabled an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill, a piece of legislation going through parliament, to include a clause that makes it mandatory for higher education providers to do this.

It's a great idea that should be supported.

Sheffield University ran a pilot scheme with promising results. In 2015/16, 76% of those eligible to register to vote at Sheffield University were registered as a result of the system.

At a cost of just £2,000, they registered 16,000 students. That equals 12p per student and is what I would call value for money!

It's vital for our democracy and social cohesion that we get more young people registered to vote and voting.

It'll make for a fairer policy agenda and help with tensions that have surfaced around issues like Brexit.

As I write this Prime Minister Theresa May has announced a snap General Election for 8th June. Now is the time to make your voice heard. Get out and vote on 8th June and make sure the concerns of your generation hold just as much importance as those of the older generation to the next Government.

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