Politically Articulate & Energised Youth

Mick Hall @ Organized Rage believes young people to be:

far more articulate and energised politically than my own generation were at that age.

Unlike this young chap most of the young people I spoke to were not LP members. Yet.

I spent part of last Friday talking to young adults in Gravesham and Thurrock. It was far from a scientific survey but it did give me a rough idea about what makes these youngsters tick. Whether in a pub, shop, or on the street I approached them and asked them whether they voted in the general election.

I found their answer refreshing as they were prepared to stand over their vote. Understandably at first they often regarded me with suspicion, an old chap asking them out of the blue if they voted is not an everyday occurrence.

One young lady in a riverside bar quietly replied almost sheepishly "I voted Labour." When I asked why she voted Labour, it was like a green light going on. She told me of the anger she felt about the rise in tuition fees which left her with a £44,000 debt when she left university*; how her friend's mum, a single parent and a carer for her own mother has had her benefits cut for no good reason more than once over the last few years. Being under 25, she's not paid the full minimum wage when she works in a bar, despite doing the same work as the other bar staff. She doesn't begrudge them it; she sees it as one more injustice inflicted on her generation by the Tory government.

Others told me unlike previous generations it's nigh on impossible to leave home and find a flat to rent which they can afford. As to buying their own home in the future, it's not even on their horizon due to the exorbitant price of housing in the south east. Interestingly these included those who had been lucky enough to find decently paid jobs.

Those I talked to who were unemployed often became incandescent with rage about the way the Jobcentre treated them. One told me he spends more time jumping through the hoops to avoid being sanctioned than he does looking for real jobs.

A majority voted remain but Brexit didn't surprise them, it was yet another indictment of living in the UK today. Free movement was popular amongst all bar two. The rest saw it as beneficial and they were outraged at the thought of not being able to travel freely and being able to work within the EU.

When I asked where they got their news from they answered in tandem well not from the mainstream (expletives removed). They have their own favorite websites, some of which I had never heard of. They used Twitter but were less keen on Facebook. Almost all said their political beliefs were mainly formed by their own experiences and those of their friends.

It was a joy and privilege to talk to them. Non-political and lethargic they were not. They were certainly more articulate and energised politically than my own generation and I reached adulthood in the 1960s. If they were old enough and failed to vote in 2015 it was because they felt there was no party or leader worthy of their vote.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and they decided last week to turn out in great numbers for Jeremy Corbyn whom they had nothing but praise for. I got the feeling one of the reasons they like him is because he's not part of the contaminated elitist politicians who have blighted their young lives.

As I wrote above this was not a scientific survey and I only spoke to a small number of randomly picked people. But it made me feel if those I chatted to were an average cross section of their generation, which I believe they were, their generation will make a far better fist of it than the current one which is in power.

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Anthony McIntyre

Former IRA prisoner, spent 18 years in Long Kesh. Free Speech advocate, writer, historian, humanist, and researcher.

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