Welcome to Adulthood

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I am very late writing this, comparatively, but I felt it right to mull over things briefly to discuss the election results, particularly one aspect of them. The Conservative Party won the election, with a pretty substantially reduced majority, and are now forming a minority government. This election has been well covered, but I still want to add my thoughts on one aspect: Youth voting.

It has finally happened! Young people are beginning to get it. Wasting your vote and your voice is not going to change anything, but actually, voting is going to change stuff. Young people in elections are traditionally not known to vote in elections. That isn’t to say that they’re not politically enfranchised, but going out to a polling station is not something we usually do. This year, we did. For our non-British readers: we have two major parties: The Conservatives (Basically Liberal Republicans, comparatively) and Labour (Basically liberal Democrats and Bernie Sanders). In the weeks leading up to the election, the major issues was Brexit, or our leaving of the EU to launch a solo career, and it was predicted in opinion polls that we would have a Conservative majority, which would wipe out the Labour Party for a generation.

That prediction was half right.

We did have the Conservatives winning a majority of the seats, but not enough to form a majority Government, which requires 326 seats. No one had enough seats to form a Government. We had a Hung Parliament. With 318 seats, Theresa ┬áMay has enough to form a Government, but she needed another party’s support, so she has begun talks with a Northern Irish Party, the Democratic Unionist Party (who are basically Southern US Republicans) to give them their support when they try to get stuff done. The DUP’s 10 seats allow the Conservatives to do their business.

That’s all fine and dandy, but what about Labour? For weeks we were told they would be wiped out for a generation, with predictions suggesting their seat count reducing to less than 150. The media ran one of the most over the top smear campaigns against Labour’s leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Corbyn is more left wing than some of the moderate Labour members, though not to the extent suggested by some (He isn’t a Communist). So, what happened to Labour? They didn’t win the election, but to be fair, they probably had the least worst loss out of everyone. They won 30 more seats, from the Conservatives, the Scottish Nationalist Party, and the Liberal Democrats, some of those parliamentary seats were won with a huge swing, increasing mandates, or creating them in some places. One of these seats was a Conservative safe seat, Kensington. Labour’s victory there was so unbelievable, there were no less than 3 recounts. They had to stop them during the morning due to fatigue. Labour won Kensington by 20 votes and was probably their best victory this election.

So, what does youth voting have to do with it?

The way I see it, the Labour party’s campaign has been one based around a theme of hope. It was a positive campaign, it appealed to young people in particular. And it worked. In the 2015 General election, 43% of 18-24-year-olds voted. This year, it was a turnout of 72% of the 18-24-year-old electorate. We don’t know until the stats are officially released, but that is what is being said. This is one of the major factors that led to a loss of the Conservative majority this election.

The way I see it, we as young people are fed up, and we have been fed up and annoyed with the status quo for a long time, in a different way from some of the older generations. I can only offer my reasoning as to why I think young people voted Labour. When you’re a kid, you watch the news, and it is negative. The news isn’t meant to be an entertainment show, of course, but it is constant negativity that comes across to you. You listen to your parents complain about things, and you just think, why are things so crap? My Mum is a nurse, and the amount of days she comes home from work in a bad mood exemplifies my feeling on that point. This is a woman who became a nurse because she watched Casualty growing up. You shouldn’t have a profession that you love and then deal with the shortcomings of overworked staff, lack of funding, and patients who are probably highly strung because their care is inadequate, because the NHS is so overworked.

The phrase ‘welcome to the adult world’ is bogus to me, because it is hypocritical. You grow up in a negative world, and you become a negative person. It is a vicious cycle! Its a Status quo. Jeremy Corbyn came along with a message that is positive and idealistic for young people who have to deal with negativity. ‘Welcome to the adult world, why are you voting for communists? You, young people, are too idealist’. Young people are fed up of what we perceive as the negative vicious cycle of a status quo, and this time, the straw broke the camel’s back, and we went out and we voted. We are adults now, and its time we decided to do something about this.

Young people have grown up in this environment and it shaped them into wanting to do something about it because they care about their loved ones, and they don’t want to be in the position that their parents are in. When it comes to a brighter future or the same status quo, people are going to want change naturally. We’re a generation that’s grown up with fake news, and over-exaggeration, so the Tabloids really don’t have an effect on us, because we don’t read them, and it is so clearly exaggerated, you’d think its a parody of the Tabloids. Labour’s campaign worked. It was positive, and it had ideas which wanted to change the status quo we live in.

There are other factors, of course, and I don’t want to come across as a Corbynista, because I am not one of them. This post really aimed to explain why and how young people have affected the result of the election. Would I like the Conservatives to embrace more positive, progressive ideas? Yes! It’s not a case of who I like and who I don’t, it’s about presentation, and it’s about how you enter the competition. Labour did it better. And to you first time voters, welcome to the adult world.

About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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