Youth vote: How The Big Issue influenced the General Election

The general election saw a huge rise in the youth vote – helped by The Big Issue's live interview with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

A big surge in the youth vote has proved very significant in this General Election – and The Big Issue played a part.

Just two days ago, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn’s last pre-election broadcast interview was with The Big Issue live on Facebook. It was hosted by UNILAD, a content-sharing platform with 29 million followers, a huge proportion of which is comprised of young people.

The Labour Leader spoke exclusively to Big Issue editor, Paul McNamee, about some of the most pressing political issues facing the UK – including national security, housing and education. He also discussed whether his cat would like living at No 10! The interview has had over half a million views, and thousands of shares and likes across our website, Facebook and YouTube.

According to Sky News data, the turnout for 18- to 24-year-olds was 66.4%, a substantial rise from the 43% figure in the 2015 general election. The data also records 63% of 18- to 34-year-olds voting Labour, with 27% voting Conservative.

The Chief Executive of UK Youth, Anna Smee, said: “We thought the vote would go up, because we’d done a lot of engagement with youth organisations, and the mood seemed to be changing. The message seemed to be getting through to young people that they could take this opportunity to have their voices heard.

A high proportion of younger voters voted to remain in the EU, and they felt very let down

“I think there was also a big backlash against Brexit,” she added. “A high proportion of younger voters voted to remain in the EU. They felt very let down, and for many of them, that was their first taste of democratic engagement.

“I think the appeal of Jeremy Corbyn to young people was his resolute commitment to being straightforward and honest, plus the fact that he wasn’t sensationalist, and there was no negative campaigning against Theresa May. It was all about coming back to the issues that were important.


The Big Issue vendors buy the magazines for £1.50 and sell them for £3. They are working and need your custom.

“Young people seem to be very frustrated about career politicians, and too much spin. I suspect that some of them feel like they can trust Corbyn, because his message is coming straight from him, unfiltered by newspapers or social media.”

Corbyn’s campaign was notable for the large numbers of young people present at his rallies, with the policy of abolishing higher education fees particularly popular with this demographic. He also received celebrity support from the likes of Lily Allen, rapper Professor Green, and grime artists like Stormzy – mentioned in the Big Issue interview (below).

Big Issue founder Lord John Bird – who has led The Big Issue’s campaign to put poverty prevention at the heart of government – tweeted about how pleased he was about the increased youth vote: