YOUTH CAN: 'Register to Vote, Boot Boris Out and Change Your Future'

YOUTH CAN is a campaign group calling on young people in Uxbridge to unseat the Prime Minister as their local MP.
November 19, 2019, 10:57am
boris johnson protest
Photos: VICE

Mine is one voice of many that goes unheard in British politics – a problem that one campaign group in London, YOUTH CAN, is trying to change.

I'm a young BAME student – not traditionally the kind of person politicians tend to care too much about. I'm under-represented in Parliament, meaning many of my problems already rank low on the political agenda, and with the chaos of Brexit consuming government for the last three years the vast majority of issues that will shape my generation's future have been ignored.

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Funding cuts to education, the stripping of housing benefits and constitutional turmoil following the 2016 EU referendum are enough to put anyone off politics; it's not hard to see why – according to the latest figures from the Electoral Commission – only one in three people aged 18 to 24 are registered to vote. But if we want to have a say in our future, we need to get engaged: it's impossible to change anything if your hat's not in the ring.

Luckily, with the next general election rapidly approaching, more and more young people are registering to vote: in the two days after the 12th of December date was announced, almost a third of the 316,264 people who registered were under-25, and if social media is anything to go by it would seem that number is rising rapidly by the day. What's yet to be seen is how many young BAME people are registering this time around.

We know that people from ethnic minorities are less likely to register to vote than their caucasian counterparts. According to an Electoral Commission survey, white people were most likely to be registered to vote (85.9 percent), followed by Asian (83.7 percent), black (76 percent), mixed (73.4 percent) and other (62.9 percent).

Recent research by The Commons Library suggests that people of BAME heritage are more likely to vote if a candidate of their ethnicity is standing. While the demographics of politicians remain as they have for years – only 8 percent of MPs and 4 percent of councillors are from ethnic minorities – it's easy to see why BAME people are under-represented on the electoral register.

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Until that changes, what young BAME people – and young people in general – need is a cause to get behind, to show that their vote can make a difference. If you can see that turning up to the polls actually has an effect, then it makes sense you'd be more likely to show up again and again.

That's why I and many others are backing the campaign group YOUTH CAN, whose slogan – "YOUTH CAN MAKE HISTORY" – refers to the battle to oust Boris Johnson from his MP position in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.

Currently, Boris has the lowest majority as an MP of any sitting Prime Minister in over 90 years. He's also the antithesis of what a majority of young voters look for in a politician: desperately out of touch, untrustworthy and with a history of making offensive comments about minorities. As a result, young people in London's most westerly constituency have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to send a clear message to both the Prime Minister and the government about what kind of a country they want to live in, by making him the first ever sitting PM to lose his seat as an MP.

Through a real-world advertising campaign, as well as messaging across social media and partnering with local groups and individuals who share our principles, we want to empower young people to feel they have a say in their future, and that – by registering and voting – they are part of something bigger.

Young people have taken a clobbering over the last decade. Unjustifiably high tuition fees, rocketing house prices, unstable employment and a tedious EU withdrawal process that has done nothing but stoke division. And I don't need to remind you of the most maddening irony of that last one: 90 percent of over-65s turned up to vote in the 2016 referendum, meaning they had a bigger say in the future of our country than 18 to 24-year-olds, an age group than only saw a 64 percent turnout.

Don't let the same thing happen on the 12th of December. Now is the time for under-represented and marginalised voices to be heard – but to influence your future you need to register to vote and participate in the democratic process. The time for under-thirties to change the way we think about politics is now.

Youth can decide. Youth can change politics. Youth can make history.

Register to vote here, and contribute to the YOUTH CAN fundraiser – to contribute towards advertising costs – here.