Thursday marks the biggest set of elections, outside of a general election, for the UK in years. I wrote an article for last year’s election appealing to young people to use their vote – and this year the message still stands.
Despite a big push to try and get younger people to vote in the 2015 general election, there appeared to be no significant increase in turnout among the younger age brackets.
If you feel disgruntled at the current state of politics and think most MPs are chumps please still make sure use your vote, even if it’s to vote for nobody.
We ‘millennials’ – aka “generation ‘Y’ bother?” – get a bad rap. We’re ‘lazy’, ‘unambitious’, ‘self-absorbed’… and quite frankly the way we statistically engage with current affairs and politics, I can see why we get this reputation. A recent survey found that 70 per cent of Londoners aged between 18 and 35 felt they’ve never done anything exciting with their lives.
This is probably part down to the current state of affordability, unemployment, welfare cuts and cost of living that cripples Londoners. And also perhaps partly thanks to our generation’s apparent lack of interest in the world around us. As a result millennials are being written off by politics.
It’s true, most of the recent election campaigns have pretty much ignored the ‘millennial’ vote. I’ve found very few of the London Mayor candidates have run campaigns directly targeted at the things that concern me, a 29 year old Londoner (born and bred) who can barely afford her rent let alone saving for a house or thinking about starting a family.
Zac, Sadiq et al appear to have forgotten all about us and in the process missed a trick. Whether the candidates have recognised it or not, over a quarter of the people living in London are “millenials” – aged between 18 and 34.
This is the age group that are much more likely to be paid below the London Living Wage than any other. The group where over 25% are forced to still live with their mum and dad. And the group that are twice as likely to rely on benefits than any other age group in London.
Being born between 1980 and 2000 doesn’t make someone complacent or self-entitled. But it does mean you’re more likely to be unemployed, less likely to own a house and, more often than not, left in a lot more debt than those born before you.
And it seems politicians have decided rather than coming up with policies to alleviate some of that stress, to just write everyone off and target those born in 2000 and after.
But that won’t stop me from voting on Thursday and it shouldn’t stop you. I’m fed up with hearing ‘millennials’ written off as selfish or lazy, there’s so much more to our age bracket.
But instead of ranting on social media about awful things politicians have said or sharing awkward video clips of blunders they’ve made, spare half an hour of your Thursday evening and head to the polling station.
There might not be one single candidate in your constituency that deserves your ‘X’ but there is a perfectly good piece of paper for you to scribble on to make that point heard loud and clear.
Put a big line through it. Or write the word none across it. Draw a massive penis on it if you want – JUST SPOIL IT PROPER AND SPOIL IT GOOD.
Spoiled ballots count for more than you’d think. One third of registered voters at last year’s general election didn’t turn up. Imagine if the majority of them were because they didn’t see anyone they fancied voting for?
If that ‘unheard third’ of voters had spoiled their ballots they would have outnumbered all the other parties.
Spoiling your ballot shows you cared enough to vote for nobody, rather than that you couldn’t be arsed to vote at all. Surely that’s a better legacy for millennials than the one we’ve already got?