Anna Griffiths in Redbrick brings promising news: reports suggesting that from the 9th April-6th May under 25s were the second largest demographic signing up to vote (beaten only by 25-34 year olds), youth registration as an issue is finally beginning to be taken seriously.
Charges of gerrymandering were made as changes in law meant millions were no longer on the electoral register in 2015.
Did 800,000 or so people drop off the electoral register?
Registration by household was scrapped and 18-25s, were required to register themselves. In 2016 it was reported that 1.8% of voters were estimated to have dropped off the register across the population and figures compiled by the Labour party found that was highest in areas with a high population of students, such as Canterbury, which has seen a 13% drop, and Cambridge and Dundee West, both with an 11% fall. The University of Sheffield, however, has taken a lead and seen outstanding results by integrating voter registration into the enrolment process.
Policy favours those that vote regularly
Political parties have not expected or received much interest from young people and so issues and policies which will affect their lives drastically have been given a low priority. Policies are focused towards the elderly, or – a new development – the working class. Anna writes:
”Whilst Jeremy Corbyn’s promise to abolish tuition fees shines a light on us as voters, the majority of political parties have other priorities this cycle
“This isn’t surprising, considering promises over immigration and the economy have been seen statistically to resonate with regular voters. The Conservatives have quietly avoided putting any changes to student loans at the front of their policy centre, whilst quietly adding means for our loan repayments to become more difficult. Meanwhile, front and centre stands the slogan ‘strong and stable’, promising economic stability in Brexit. Something that stands up to scrutiny? Some would argue no. Something key demographics will actually turn out to vote for? Yes”. She asks:
“Why did the Liberal Democrats accept the compromise that trebled student fees?
“Why did Labour feel they could triple them after promising never to do so in 2005?”
“We don’t vote. Political parties know this. The Conservatives especially know this, prioritising policy for the elderly and those on higher incomes; those who consistently come out to vote in a General Election. Yes, you may believe that the June 8th result has already been decided. Despite the gains in the polls, many still believe it’s too little too late to stop Theresa May gaining power for another five years. Even if this is undisputable (which nothing ever really is in 2017), a surge student vote would change things. If we could be relied upon to turn out and express opinion, then politics would have to begin to take us seriously. Our cynicism over voting is self-perpetuated; policy favours those that can be trusted to cast a ballot. By failing to vote, we give political parties further reason to ignore us”.
She ends by urging young people to vote: even a blank or defaced ballot on election day still counts in voter participation figures. It will tell the government that your voices are being heard in a way that directly impacts them. And then, maybe, government will think twice before placing the interests of young people at the bottom of their ‘priority pile’.
Theresa May has announced that the Conservatives will renew a pledge to hold a free vote on overturning 2004 ban on the blood sport. During a visit to a factory in Leeds, the Prime Minister said: “This is a situation on which individuals will have one view or the other, either pro or against. As it happens, personally I have always been in favour of fox hunting, and we maintain our commitment, we have had a commitment previously as a Conservative Party, to allow a free vote”.
Is anyone surprised? What are the lives of a few foxes and the welfare of our least fortunate citizens to a person prepared to press the nuclear button?
Nicola Stavrinou writes about this repeal in Redbrick* (accessed via the Brummie aggregator):
She asks why: as 84% of British people are opposed to fox-hunting, would the Conservative Party back such an unpopular repeal?
Her answer: “Theresa May is using this repeal to gain back the hardliner Tories who wish to see the ban lifted once and for all. She is going for an electoral majority which could potentially remove Labour and SNP from the equation. The anti-hunting Labour and SNP MPs who voted to ban fox-hunting could potentially be replaced with Conservative MPs who are pro-hunting. May knows that she has the power to pass unfavourable laws because of the Conservative’s recent surge in popularity, most recently seen in the Mayoral elections from the beginning of the month”.
Wryly she concludes: “I have no doubt that if there is a potentially high Conservative majority win in the snap election, this ban will be lifted. Not that it has actually stopped anyone from hunting since then anyway”.
*Redbrick is the student publication of the University of Birmingham, established in 1936 under the original title Guild News
It has evolved to include eleven sections covering wide areas of student life, and expanded into the world of digital journalism. All content is produced by student journalists, including reporters, commentators, photographers and editors. As a student society, any student of the University of Birmingham can join and contribute to the publication.
The hard copy is published fortnightly and its website is updated continuously with regular content, videos, audio clips and photography. Events are covered through live blogging, providing a platform for readers to get directly involved with the debates. The website currently receives approximately 40,000 unique views per month.
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So ends a thoughtful article by Matt Capaldi in Redbrick, the student publication of the University of Birmingham:
“As the Labour leadership battle comes to a head, Matt Capaldi assesses its favourite candidate, Jeremy Corbyn, and his chances to reinstate a Labour leadership in 2020 as the head of the party”.
He points out that the Scandinavian countries prove that left-wing policies can be very effective if done properly – the real problems perceived lie with gaining public trust. The writer argues that indications are that he has done this – even his most ardent opponents across the political spectrum agree that he is a kindly, honest and principled man.
More difficult will be winning over fearful colleagues in the Labour Party who place getting elected above all else and – to that end – trim their sails to the prevailing wind, convincing no-one. As Capaldi says:
“If Corbyn wins the election, there will be attempts to oust him from the inside. But, despite these difficulties, isn’t it worth a shot?”
Corbyn could really rally up some passionate support with a more left leaning policy set, and it could be just what the Labour Party needs.
Could? He has already done this.
Even if he does not win the leadership, it seems most likely that the social movement he seeks will develop . For the first time voters across the board see a hope of a change for the better – a change which is not possible with either of the mainstream parties in their present condition – and they will not lightly abandon this quest. As Capaldi ends:
“ . . . he is the only one who, in my opinion, could really do something spectacular and be the nation’s first choice, not just the least bad option. Yes, it is a risk, but I think it is one the Labour Party should take. If he can pull it off, Corbyn could win a landslide in 2020”.