Still a mere Thirty-Something herself, CARO FENTIMAN directs an election battle cry at Generation Youth
For those of us fearful of opening a newspaper each morning lest we learn of further doom and gloom, news of Mrs May’s snap election will have done little to lift the mood.
In my world, one in which Clinton should have won and Brexit ought to have been consigned to history, we are long overdue some good news and the prospect of Theresa May storming to a landslide victory does nothing to lift our mood.
But do not despair, fellow Lefties; I sense a glimmer of hope, the possibility of a more liberal, thoughtful and progressive result.
It all depends on persuading young people to get out and vote in numbers that will make life a little less comfortable for the Prime Minister.
Europe is still the issue of the day. In last year’s EU referendum, 64%of 18 to 24-year-olds voted, half as many again as the 43% who turned out for the 2015 general election.
Okay, still not a match for the 90% of over-65s who voted in the referendum, but my point is that if those 18-24s who were angered by the Brexit result decide to come out in force on June 8, it could cause a major headache for Mrs May.
Where the narrative starts to fall apart is over Labour’s own shoddy reaction to Brexit. Many of the party’s newer members are young people disillusioned with the current state of play and whether or not they stay loyal to Jeremy Corbyn after his three-line whip in support of the Article 50 vote which triggered the Brexit negotiations remains to be seen
As things stand, Labour is unlikely to win a majority: a manifesto citing lack of school places, growing operation waiting lists, library closures and the lack of affordable housing are not sexy enough for many voters who have become convinced that life is tough because of Europe and that Brexit is the solution.
But if last year’s referendum represented a protest vote by the ‘squeezed middle’ – people barely getting by and blaming the Establishment – then this year’s general election presents an opportunity for the young to make their voices heard.
Those of us angry at the Establishment will achieve little unless more liberal, progressive voices demand a platform.
I have always eschewed tactical voting, preferring to follow my heart, but these are desperate times: Labour has little hope in my North Northumberland constituency, leaving the Lib Dems as the only electable option. In other North-East seats, a cross has to go in the Labour box while in some places the SNP or Greens may provide the solution.
Despite Corbyn’s initial reticence, a collaboration between forward-thinking political parties has to be the goal. Theresa May spits out the phrase ‘left-wing coalition’ as if a collective, more diverse group of politicians is a bad thing. But it can only be something better and less ‘Establishment’ than we currently endure.
If there never was ever a time in the last fifty years for the young to vote to change the system it is now.
So if you are young, as I still will be (just) on June 8, get out and vote.
If you think education is a priority, or believe that everyone is entitled to quality arts provision, vote.
Want to support the NHS? Think that affordable housing should be a universal right, not just a pipe-dream? Then vote!
If you are fed up with the gap between rich and poor getting bigger every day while the government preaches austerity. . . vote!
Brexit is NOT the solution to society’s problems.