“I’ve chosen not to vote because I don’t trust anyone in power” explains student, Brett Peggs. Compared with a low turnout of 38% of 18-25 year olds voting in the 2005 general election, the British Election Study (BES) has revealed that as many as six out of every 10 young people cast their vote this year.
Hastings, which has a population of 108,324 people, gained a Conservative seat at Westminster, with candidate Amber Rudd claiming 45.5% of votes. Figures show that 78.7% of the town is eligible to vote, with an overall turnout of 63.9% this year.
Despite the high turnout, BBC research suggested that young people are becoming increasingly disengaged with politics, with only 31% expressing strong interest.
This seemingly disengaged electorate lack a “meaningful education in politics” says The Telegraph’s Kate Crowhurst. In the age of the internet, social media has been increasingly used in political communication, with celebrities such as Russell Brand campaigning their own political ideas, reaching on average 250,000 views per video.
Despite this, not all young people are turned off by politics, in particular the university population of Hastings. “In an election this close, every vote is going to count” says student Reece. “It’s probably the most important decision you’re going to make in the next five years”. Student and working tax-payer Emily says: “There’s a lot of young people who refused to vote in this election and I think it’s an absolute outrage”, continuing to argue that “There are people who say ‘I won’t vote because it won’t make a difference’, but, if you don’t vote, you don’t have a right to complain if the outcome is not as they wanted”.
UKIP candidate for Hastings and ex-Gogglebox personality; Andrew Michael says “I think it’s massively important (for young people to vote), when Russell Brand kicked off all this nonsense suggesting that people shouldn’t vote- it was an absolute insult to democracy”. Mr Michael, 55, claimed that his “transition from Gogglebox to politics” has helped make people aware of the importance to vote, saying that “it has caught the imagination of young people”.
A Green Party supporter who wishes to remain anonymous said that “It’s as important to young people as anybody else” adding that, “even more so because they’re going to live with the consequences”.