Looking for Something?
Posts Tagged for

Voting

Young voters proved everyone wrong this election, and we’re not about to stop campaigning

Author:
corbsisadorbs

By Amy Callaghan

In the UK’s general election on the 8th of June, the exit polls predicted a shock result which was irreconcilable with the state of British politics when Theresa May called the election on the 18th of April. At that time, the Tories were expected to at the very least hold on to, and indeed likely substantially increase, their parliamentary majority, giving Theresa May a greater mandate and aiding her legitimacy in Brexit negotiations. The Labour Party awaited decimation. However, the exit polls predicted a hung Parliament, and as the night went on, it became increasingly clear that the Conservative party could not expect to form a majority government this time around. At the time of writing, the Conservatives hold 318 seats, losing 12, and Labour hold 261 seats, gaining 29. The reason for this transformation in the political landscape bringing about an unexpected victory for the political left? Young voter turnout.

72% is the estimated turnout figure for voters aged 18-24 (although the veracity of this figure and other turnout figures is unlikely to be confirmed for around a week), a massive increase on the estimated 43% turnout in the last general election, and higher even than their turnout at the EU referendum, which was around 64%. This huge upswing in engagement among young voters marks a significant shift in establishment politics, which relies more heavily than they will admit on apathetic young voters – in fact, the Sun ran a feature online on the day of the election this year on how to actively prevent young people from voting. While the piece is obviously writing in a joking tone, the message is nothing short of repellent – claiming that young people will ‘do the wrong thing’ at the polls as though their views on their future matter less than the accepted and established Conservative perspective more favoured by older voters.

The Conservative party themselves did not do much to engage young voters, particularly in comparison with the Labour party. While the Labour party encouraged young people to register to vote and then get out and vote consistently throughout their campaign, the Tories did not use social media to encourage voter registration at all during theirs. This is evidently a deliberate lack of engagement with young voters, as the Conservatives are aware that young voters tend to lean much more towards progressive parties and politics. Their high turnout marks an important shift in British politics which will hopefully persist in the future.

Another vital benefit of increasing young voter engagement and turnout is the balancing effect it has on the bias present in traditional media such as television and newspapers. Young people are significantly more likely to engage in politics on social media rather than in newspapers, allowing a counteraction of the bias present in overwhelmingly right-wing media sources, which often blatantly lie and misrepresent Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party. Even in viewing television debates, young voters are more likely to read reactions and responses to the debates on social media rather than in newspapers. This helps to account for the success of Corbyn and the Labour party, surprising to many – the negative portrayal and scaremongering within traditional media led many (including more liberal publications such as the Guardian) to believe success was utterly unlikely, yet online engagement of young voters was evidently hugely effective in changing the result.

Hopefully this result will show young people the power they have to effect change in British politics. Many disillusioned by the Brexit result (which did not reflect their views or interests) channelled this frustration and fury into thoroughly knocking the wind out of the Tories’ sails, as demonstrated by the election results. This sends a message to the British establishment – do not underestimate or ignore young people – but it also sends a message to young people themselves. We can affect change – we can massively alter the results expected and established. The Tories are in a significantly weakened state rather than a position of enormous power – thanks to us. Maintaining this engagement and energy means opposition in months and years to follow can be effective and empowering. Young people have proven that we can change the face of British politics, and we certainly intend to continue.

The Emily Tree!

Author:

On Saturday 27th September, Anna, Becky and Cora went along to The Emily Tree‘s march and picnic. They had an amazing time, and wanted to share it all with PBG!

IMG_8010

What is the Emily Tree and why is it a good group?

Becky – The Emily Tree is a group based in London that’s working to get more young women involved with politics.

Cora – I think what’s great about the Emily Tree is how open and accessible it is – it’s easy for young people to feel really removed from feminism for any number of reasons and the Emily Tree smashes them all!

Anna – Definitely, it’s non-academic, teenage girl based. It’s fun and exciting and creative and was created by two really inspiring funny women.

Becky – Yeah, it’s really, really inclusive as well, which is amazing – it’s feminism for everyone, not just for the privileged.

Anna – Which is SO NICE, because lots of organisations for teens can be patronising, or just don’t listen to us.

Becky – And the people who run it are two of the best people in the world ever.

Screen shot 2014-10-01 at 16.06.14What happened during the day, and what were the best parts? 

Becky – It started off with a march, which we didn’t get to.

Anna – Very sad about that! But Cora got to go!! And she brought us sashes!!

Cora – The march was brilliant! We sang, laughed, and definitely caught the attention of quite a few passers-by. We even got a car horn beep!!

Becky – Oh wow! It sounds amazing, gutted to have missed it. But it was really cool to see you all walking towards us in the park, this sea of purple/green/white with signs! After we’d eaten, there were a ton of speakers, who were all very amazing and inspirational.

Anna – Definitely! And Becky and I were lucky enough to speak! Becky was amazing!!! And listening to all the other campaign leaders and young women was just fab!

Becky- Thank you so much Anna! You were super fab too. You made us very proud.

Anna – One of my fave moments was when Cora was walking towards Becky and I and we just ran and hugged her/squished her! I also enjoyed the fact that people came up and told me they found my speech good, because public speaking is a fear of mine and so I was really proud I did it! And then also just feeling incredibly inspired and happy about all the young women there!

Cora – I think for me the best part was the two of you speaking! I swelled up with pride honestly because I know it took a lot. You two are amazing.

Becky – Yeah, it was so good to see you both!! I really enjoyed getting to meet so many amazing people, and to hear some really powerful speeches. And I agree with you Anna, getting to speak was such a huge thing, I felt really proud to have had a chance to share my thoughts with the group. It also meant a lot that people told me they thought it was good and inspiring, as I was so inspired by everyone else. Anna and I agreed at the end it was like a circle of inspiration!!

Cora – There were so many incredible people- speakers and attendees generally, I left feeling super inspired!!

Anna – Yeah!! I also loved being INSIDE the Emily Tree. It was like I was a Dryad.

Why was the day important?Screen shot 2014-10-01 at 16.06.16

Becky – Firstly, in a general way, because it was getting young women talking about feminism, and getting them to speak to people who are campaigning around important issues.

Cora – It really brought the issues to the public too, we did attract a lot of attention!

Becky – Yeah, the march was such a good idea.

Anna – I also think it was just so important to have a safe fun space to help rejuvenate everyone so we can go out and CHANGE THE WORLD.

Becky – Definitely!! Personally, I found it really moving and empowering- I have to admit that I was very near tears at points. It’s really easy to feel alone as a feminist (as I spoke about in my speech) and the whole day was a reminder that we are not alone at all.

Cora – It was a real reminder of both how much and how little has changed- so many of the suffragette values are still very relevant.

Becky – Completely agree with you Cora – everyone thinks that the suffragettes have come and gone, but yesterday was such a huge reminder that they haven’t – their legacy stays, and we are continuing their work. Emily matters!!

Anna – Yes!!!!

What would you say to other people who might have a chance to do a similar thing?

Becky – I would say definitely, definitely do it!! Even if it’s a three hour coach journey, it is so unbelievably worth it. Honestly.

Anna – Definitely agree!! And there is no pressure to speak or anything it’s just about celebrating girls as they are, and even if you are scared of people (like me!) I would recommend it! Maybe bring a friend though!

Cora – I think any chance to get involved in campaigning should be pursued – the sense of community and cohesion was great! It’s such a valuable experience to have had, we’re very lucky!

Screen shot 2014-10-01 at 16.06.06

Are you planning to do anything as a result of it, either now or in the future?

Becky – Well, I’ve already contacted the 50:50 parliament campaign youth group, so I’m getting involved with that! And hopefully the No More Page 3 group as well. Would be great to link in with #emilymatters too.

Anna – Yeah! I just want to do all of the things!

Becky – Same here!!

Cora – For sure, keep on keeping on! This year’s been incredible so far, and every event like this I go to seems to offer another tonne of opportunities. It’s overwhelming really, in the best possible way.

Anna – I’m already so excited for next year!

Becky – Yeah, there’s loads planned, and it’s all very exciting.

Anna – I want to get more involved in the NMP3 stuff and just keep going strong as a PBG writer.

Becky – That’s great Anna!! It just generally helped empower me more, and kind of gave me a space to rejuvenate a bit, so I’m even more determined than ever. And yes!!!!! Totally agree with you there Anna, it’s made me want to do more of the talking stuff!!! As well as that I was really interested in what Jane Ellison, the MP, said about getting involved. I might write to my local MP and see if I can get an internship or opportunity of some kind.

Anna – Yeah! Talking to MPs is great and I didn’t realise it’s actually quite easy.

Cora – Definitely want to pursue that! It sounds much simpler to get in touch with MPs than I’d imagined, and it’s got the potential to be both useful and game-changing! Girls inside Parliament is brilliant as a statement in itself.

Hey there!

We are Powered By Girl. We're young women who write for young women. We do it because we believe there's more to 13-25 year old women than clothes, boys and celebrities. So please have a look at our stuff, and join us!

Sign up to get our blogs in your inbox!