Over the years I have heard much stick about the younger community not voting in elections and not getting involved in politics, as some feel it doesn’t really concern them. There was this mentality that it didn’t matter what happens and the United Kingdom will just fix itself. Meeting community members this year from all over the country, they too have this thought that students don’t care and are lazy. To them this is why youths don’t bother to vote but that was until the 2017 Elections. How the tables have turned! Reports suggesting youth turnout was around 70%, not only shows that they do care but also those political parties would be foolish to ignore the needs and concerns of young people! This news was fantastic to hear! Students have awoken and their voice cannot be ignored.
What really attracted students though? Well, many I have encountered on my journey have said it was the idea of abolishing tuition fees that played a big role in them voting for the Labour Party. This was stated in many newspapers that the idea of abolishing fees played a part in the Labour Party gaining from the Tories. Not only that but there was a huge increase in safe seat majority for the party. Students at university feel the struggle of paying for their degrees and feel it is unjust for them to have to pay more to attend university. Some students who shared their thoughts with me believed it was ridiculous how the government says education is the most important thing for our younger generation but then increased university tuition fees, this led them to vote for the Labour Party as there was someone to hear their views. The Conservative Party, however, did put up a good fight with their adverts and speeches about the future of Britain and in the end managed to gain the most seats in the House of Commons.
A pre-election poll of 18-24-year-olds placed the NHS (54%) as the most important issue for young people, followed by Brexit (26%), education (22%) and tuition fees (22%). Meeting various Hindu communities the feeling was mixed between elders and youngsters. Elders felt the Conservative Party was doing a great job and would lead us into Brexit comfortably and some were loyal to their local Member of Parliament. There were some who were unsure about the NHS and how it would be affected if the Conservative Party took the lead. The young Hindu students at university were mainly fixed on backing Labour dues to the fees and actively shared their thoughts on social media.
The Hindu community is awaking and hopefully more and more Hindus will vote in future elections. Unfortunately for many young people, the problems will continue. Many still feel uncomfortable with the Labour Party in its current form, as they believe the Labour Party might not be the voice for Hindus. Plenty do not trust the Conservatives on Brexit, the NHS and the economy. Therefore Brexit is still up for debate and will remain ever contentious. The majority of people are just fed up with the fear-driven politics from too many parties and politicians over the past few years.
For our youth, this is the beginning! We have to press on and make sure our voice is heard in any party going forward. We cannot sit back anymore and complain we want to change without standing on our feet and making it happen. Parties now realised that students will surprise them; if they believe in something then they will fight to make it happen and will make sure they don’t go down easily. This election for youths was about their future. More parties now know it is about empowering the youth and building a country for them too.
— Jaimal Patel, Events Coordinator & Sabbatical Officer