In the current political era we are doing so much more to engage young people in Politics. We encourage young people to engage in Politics, join political parties and stand for youth representation, and major political parties are discussing lowering the voting age to 16 as it has been done in Scotland.
As a young person I’m glad to see that we are moving away from disregarding the opinion of young people in politics and making them part of the conversation. But if I have seen one person who in current politics who can engage with young people, it is Jeremy Corbyn.
It has often been said that Corbyn has been popular with young people. But why?
On the one hand, you can say that his policies are popular with young people. In the 2017 Labour Manifesto Corbyn promised to lower and scrap tuition fees and give the right to vote to those aged 16 and 17. The tuition fees policy is bound to be popular with young people, as it would allow more young people to have access to higher education, and open more opportunities for them, and the voting age policy would allow more young people to have a say in who is elected, and can influence future policy. Corbyn also has promised a National Education Service to improve education. Although it is not just these policies which engage young people, it is Corbyn’s stance altogether.
In my early days of being interested in politics, I often ranted against austerity and spoke about how we should work towards a fairer society, and most people I knew that were interested in politics felt the same way. But as time went on with more austerity, brexit and Trump, I lost hope. But to hear a politician like Corbyn openly speak about politics the way that young people do, is inspiring. As he talks about a true alternative to the Conservative’s policy and making life better for all of those in society. For a leader of a major political party to talk about what could be a true alternative can inspire young people to engage in politics and make that alternative a reality.
Even Corbyn’s actions show how he can engage with young people better than your average politician. During the General Election Corbyn appeared on stage at a Libertines gig and spoke about his policy on premier league clubs. The crowd gave Corbyn a warm welcome by chanting his name. This shows how Corbyn appeals to young people in our society. While other politicians may engage with young people by meet with young members of their political party, Corbyn addressed young people in an ordinary environment. I spoke to a friend who plays in a band and has an interest in politics, his reaction when I mentioned Corbyn’s appearance at the gig was;
“That is exactly how to appeal to young people.”
But what if it’s not Jeremy Corbyn that is so appealing, but the general anti-establishment left wing politics. In the United States, Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders was said to be very popular with young liberal Americans. President Obama complimented Sanders in his White House Correspondents Dinner speech for his ability to engage with young people. Sanders had a similar ideology to Corbyn, as both men have campaigned for social reform on a left wing platform. It seems as if this ideology appeals to young people, and politicians who follow this ideology have the support of younger demographics.
It is clear that throughout this election, Corbyn has been able to appeal to the young people of the UK. Whatever you think of Jeremy Corbyn, you can’t deny that he is very good at engaging with young people. But will this help him? Will ALL young people vote Corbyn? We’ll just have to wait till the election to find out.