Read Our 'Swing Party' Election Coverage Right Here

This election, we're visiting key marginals with high student populations around the UK.
Jamie Clifton
London, GB
December 2, 2019, 4:10pm
Image: VICE

British politics has a young people problem.

For decades, youth voter turnout was low, meaning politicians didn't bother devising policies to appeal to younger voters, meaning younger voters didn't bother turning up to vote. Which is not ideal. You could argue – see you in my mentions, politics reply-guys – that you can't really call Britain a representative democracy if not all Brits are represented.


Near enough every part of your daily life – travel, work, education, the NHS – is linked to politics and decisions made by politicians. If older people are disproportionately represented at the polls, their interests will be disproportionately catered to. The EU referendum is a good example – and if you're reading this website, I'd wager you don't particularly like how that turned out.

But there was one positive: at the 2017 election, a year after Britain's nursing home population dictated the future of our nursery population, more than half of 18 to 24-year-olds showed up to the polls – a 16 percent increase on 2015.

The "youthquake" was exciting – some people were so excited, they wanted it named "word of the year" – but over-45s still turned out in higher numbers than those under 45. All the news this year about a surge in young voter registration is cause for optimism, but there are still plenty of under-30s left to sign up. And this could be down to any number of reasons: disenfranchisement, apathy, anger at a broken political system, the baked-in feeling that their vote won't make a difference.

The thing is, every vote has the potential to make a difference. To make that point, this election VICE UK is publishing "Swing Party", an editorial series focusing on key marginals in university towns where the Conservative Party only won by a slim majority at the 2017 election – in one case, Southampton Itchen, by 31 votes.


Public services are at breaking point; millions of people are using food banks; the NHS is in danger; 130,000 people have died as a result of austerity; insecure, zero-hour contracts are on the rise; hundreds of thousands of people are homeless; and the environment is at a tipping point, yet nothing meaningful is being done. The UK cannot sustain another Conservative government.

Luckily, if they all register to vote, and vote in the constituency where their uni is located, students in the 20 constituencies we've identified have a real chance of ousting their local Tory MP.

We've visited a few of those constituencies, to meet student campaigners and take a closer look at national issues – healthcare, homelessness, inequality, Scottish independence – through a local lens.

Read the articles in our Swing Party series here.