What Brexit, Trump And The Whole Of 2016 Can Teach First-Time Voters Going Into The 2017 General Election
It's been... interesting...
Politics seems to have taken a little bit of a weird turn recently. The referendum last June on whether or not Britain would Brexit (leave the EU) divided the whole country - with 51.9% voting to leave, and 48.1% voting to remain – and is now taking Britain away from the EU into unchartered territory.
Meanwhile, the most unlikely candidate EVER became President of the United States, and is now one of the most powerful people in the world.
It’s been a bumpy ride, but the events of 2016 taught us a lot. Here are 6 things we have learnt:
1. Anything can happen
Donald Trump, a popular TV personality (basically the US Alan Sugar), became the President of the US despite having been accused of sexual assault by 15 different women in the lead up to the election and having actually been caught on film boasting about doing so, saying he liked to grab women “by the p*ssy”.
Oh and he basically said that climate change isn’t a thing and that he’d build a massive wall to keep Mexicans out of the US that they’d have to pay for themselves etc. Which makes as little sense as "covfefe".
It was an unlikely win in our minds... but it happened. And for those Americans who didn’t want Trump but didn’t vote? The moral of the story is: unless we all take action individually we have to live with the consequences of other peoples’ decisions.
2. Young people aren’t voting as much as they used to…
The number of young people voting hasn’t always been this low – it’s dropped.
The difference between 18-24s voting and 65-and-over voting was just 12% in 1992.
BUT, in the last election in 2015, the difference between the amount of youngies and oldies voting was 35% - less than half of 18-24-year-olds voted, while 78% of people aged 65 and over did.
Basically the same amount of older people are voting now as they always did – there’s just been a drop in young people casting their votes.
3. The 2015 election could have resulted differently…
Historically, young people are more likely to vote Labour and older people are more likely to vote Conservative.
Let’s think about it… around 11, 300,000 people voted Conservative, and 9, 300, 000 voted Labour in the 2015 election. That’s a difference of two million. If 78% of young people voted (as many as over-65s did) instead of just 43%, the election could have had a very different outcome.
And if Labour had won David Cameron wouldn’t have been able to call a EU referendum and Brexit would not be a thing (unless Labour called a referendum, that is). Which brings us to…
4. The referendum could have resulted differently…
The EU referendum in June 2016 had a huge turnout of voters across the board.
And that includes the amount of young people turning up to vote. More of them voted in the referendum than the 2015 election with a solid 64% rocking up at polling stations, according to a detailed polling by Opinium. More than 75% of these young voters chose to remain in the EU.
BUT a larger percentage of the older generations also turned up… with a whopping 90% of them casting their vote.
What if it had been 90% of young people turning up to vote? Considering that the vote to leave won by such a small majority, statistically, we’d definitely be more likely to be in the EU rn.
5. The world would look different if young people ruled
And we don’t mean it would involve minimal education and maximum boozing (though, let’s face it, it might do).
We mean that young people are generally speaking more open-minded and tolerant than older people, who are often more set in their ways thanks to living in a very different, more close-minded world to us.
In a global study by Viacom featuring more than 7000 16-24-year-olds around the world, 95% of global youth feel their generation believes in inclusion and equality. Young people are generally more about celebrating diversity and breaking down outdated perceptions of things like gender, race and religion.
And we need inclusion and acceptance in the UK now more than ever. We need young people taking more control and demanding their values are represented in politics. Cos if young people aren’t turning up to vote, politicians will just do what the older generations, who will vote for them, want instead.
6. Older generations are deciding on the future of a country they won’t witness
One of the biggest complaints from young people about the results of previous elections has been that older people, who turn up to vote in the masses, are actually deciding on the long-term future of Britain but won’t necessarily be around to witness the consequences.
Pretty much every long-term political decision will affect young peoples’ lives most in the long-run. So it should be them queuing up outside polling stations in the masses.
Basically if there’s one thing we’ve learnt it’s that every vote counts, and young people can seriously change things in the UK. So no excuses ppl.
So if you’ve just become eligible to vote make sure you do because it’s the only way you can genuinely make a difference and have your say on the things that are important to you.
The election is on the 8th June, so make sure you check out where your nearest polling station is so you can prep for the big day!
Now here's a load of stuff you should probably stop complaining about if you cba to vote...
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