Opinion

Bite The Ballot on Britain's young voters: If the kids are united...

This general election is something to savour for young voters in Britain. But now is not the time to get carried away, writes Michael Sani of Bite The Ballot. This is just the beginning...

Young voters

What a time it is for politics, what a time it is for young citizens. With estimates as high as 72 per cent turnout of 18-24s, we need to look outside any result you were hoping for and consider the real win here.

The real win here is that people are seeing more than ever that politics can bring about change. The real win lies with the young electorate who have turned up and brought diversity to our democracy.

Now it’s time to build upon this energy, build this movement and remain engaged. Demand transparency, hold parliament and the government to account and let this be the start of a real democracy, with representation of all ages involved in the debate.

The Prime Minister and the Conservative Party have paid the price for not engaging the young and putting a vision for the future that does not have them in it. Not a single call by the Prime Minister or the government for anyone to register to vote. That’s the real shame here. Too many people rely on the ability to politically prioritise by demographic – but young voters took their rightful place at the table and sent a strong message that they will no longer be on the menu.

The real win lies with the young electorate who have turned up and brought diversity to our democracy

It is vital that politics becomes ‘normal’ and that we use more unconventional formats for people who want to engage in other non-traditional ways. Engagement should be celebrated regardless of what shape or form it takes.

Jeremy Corbyn
Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn leaving the party's HQ in London shortly after the hung parliament is confirmed.

The key thing is that this political engagement through the use of celebrities, thought-provoking videos and creative campaigns, can spark someone’s interest and then that interest can be built upon. We should want a society where every citizens can debate opposing views, understand why different outcomes are desired but most importantly be able to cut through the trash and find the real facts related to the issues that they care about, so informed decisions can be made.

Young voters took their rightful place at the table and sent a strong message that they will no longer be on the menu

High quality debate and the respect for people’s right to be different is essential and that, for me, and many others who have actively campaigned for youth engagement starts within education. I’m calling for a meaningful and engaging political education that ensures everyone understand their role and the role they can play in the change-making process.

The real work starts now. For all the citizens that have always voted, through to those that have just exercised their right for the first time: let’s not allow sound bite politics and misconceptions to drive any more agendas. Let’s look beyond personalities and keep the issues and the solutions at the heart of the discussion, both within our local communities and society at large.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HK2J4_gscnk

And as I write this with the BBC (on mute) I think it summarises the problem with mainstream media and how they are resistant to evolve the dusty politics they offer. We are looking at record levels of young voters, yet all we are offered in the election coverage is bald, white men talking about the possibilities of what happens next. Its dead. Hats off to all the new media creatives that have brought politics that speaks to the socially-excluded and the masses.

Theresa May speaks outside Downing Street after returning from Buckingham Palace.

What a moment it is for politics. What a moment it is for anyone that has worked to actively engage young citizens.

But let’s not get too caught up in the celebrations – moments can pass pretty quickly and it’s down to all of us to remain engaged and continue the political evolution.

The real work starts now!

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