Political apathy is often associated with young people, and the unfortunate reality is that for many (though not all), it is a true association. Strong critics and campaigners alike ask why, but just taking a quick glance at British politics should easily answer that question. Look at recent policy; raising tuition fees, scrapping maintenance grants, scrapping young people's housing benefit, a living wage only for over-25s, and there's more. Look at the parties; the Conservatives seen as attacking everyone except themselves, Labour apparently in turmoil, UKIP seen as a racist joke and the Lib Dems, enough said. Finally, take a look at the politicians; the phrase 'male, pale and stale' is commonly heard. Combine these three aspects together and it doesn't make for very engaging reading, particularly for young people. What it leads to is another unfortunate turn of phrase when speaking about politics; 'but they're all the same anyway'.
Now, that phrase is out of date. Suddenly, an outsider, veteran, backbench MP has found himself Leader of the Labour Party. Suddenly, we have a clear left and right wing. Suddenly, disenfranchised young people are pricking their ears up to politics again. British politics is undergoing a radical transformation and young people want a piece of it. Jeremy Corbyn's leadership campaign has engaged young people with his strong belief that things can be better. The belief that politics should be for the people, and influenced by the people; not by economists and bland statistics in reports. It is something new, something different. Just the concept of the candidate who first intended to merely 'widen the debate' in an election, going on to win it gives young people some hope that there are some genuine surprises in politics; some genuine demonstrations of people power.
It is still a fact, however, that elections will run on image rather than policy. The press and the parties know that there will be many voters who are not interested in the policies, but simply interested in a leader who acts, speaks and looks competent. How else could a bacon sandwich ruin an election for a whole party? Many may still argue that Corbyn is unelectable, but it is only due to his image. By electing Corbyn, the first steps have been taken to try and tackle this shameful way of conducting politics. Corbyn does not look like the ordinary statesman; and yes, this may be his downfall in future elections, but maybe it is his strongest attribute amongst young people. Young people generally do not accept the status quo; we are inquisitive, sagacious and doubtful. Something new and defiant against the conventions that appear not to relate to us will be welcomed with the same passion and commitment they themselves offer to us.
Corbyn is not the type of politician to force his opinion on the electorate, or even his own party (as he made clear in his conference speech). Just like young people, he is individual in his beliefs, and principled. He will listen to the wants and needs of the electorate, and if his personal policy contradicts that, he will not shy away from working to represent them, rather than continuing to oppose them. This isn't dishonest, it's representative, and representation is something young people aren't often familiar with. We're not the core voters; in fact, thousands of us don't even have the vote. We aren't fairly depicted in the media. We are ideologically attacked when difficult times linger over us. We look for any channel to not just be heard, but also listened to. This is what has made Corbyn's campaign so accessible to the young. Making Prime Minster's Questions a public question time; asking thousands of Northern voters what they believe his policy for the North should be; this is the type of work that makes him representative. That is what makes him different.
I did not support Corbyn in the leadership election, but remain grateful for his of hope for change, both socially and politically for young and old. His vision looks to the future in optimism, and the future is something young people are 100% of. Even if his policy is just 'utopian', it has still brought some of the disengaged masses back to politics, and that can never be seen as a bad thing.