We speak to young Labour voters who contributed to one of the biggest election upsets ever
It’s official – Theresa May’s plans to gain a majority government for the Conservatives have fallen as the flat as the wheat she once trampled on as a ridiculously boring child. While May, ignoring the resounding calls for her to resign, forms a coalition with the fascist, anti-abortion, creationist DUP, Labour is celebrating its biggest vote share increase since 1945. Jeremy Corbyn lost, yes, but this election is a victory for him.
But none of this could have happened without the galvanisation of young people. According to Sky News, the turnout of 18 to 24-year olds to vote on Thursday was 66.4 percent, up from 43 percent in the 2015 general election. Those that were certain of a comfortable win for the Tories are choking on their own smugness, having somehow majorly underestimated the youth vote and their overall desire for policies that actually, you know, benefit them and the rest of society. What’s particularly scary for them, is that Corbyn’s popularity and the increasing irrelevance of mainstream media among the younger generation has been proven.
Still, if young voters, many of whom did not vote in 2015 despite being old enough, are so resilient to all the shade thrown at Corbyn, his policies, his shadow cabinet, and his ability to lead a country by biased media outlets – who or what is informing their views? To find out, we spoke to some 18–24-year-old Labour voters.
ISMAIL AKHTAR, 18, LABOUR VOTER IN READING
“I was influenced through watching loads of Grime artists telling us how important it is to vote on Twitter. I didn’t realise how much a single vote could make an impact or how much my future depends on it. I felt like Jeremy Corbyn was interacting more with the youth of today compared to other party leaders in terms of scrapping tuition fees but also making housing more affordable for the younger generation.”
ROSA HOWARTH-KENNEDY, 19, LABOUR VOTER IN SHEFFIELD HALLAM
“Most of my knowledge comes from the Independent and articles from Momentum and Facebook groups. I didn't watch mainstream TV like the BBC as it was completely biased towards the Conservatives. I think if older people had access to the same information, then their vote would have been completely different. My auntie and uncle who are in their 80s were more persuaded to vote Labour because of the different viewpoint and information I presented them.”
CHRIS SALTMARSH, 21, LABOUR VOTER IN SHEFFIELD CENTRAL
“I follow Novara Media a lot and I thought their election content was a really refreshing opposition to the traditional media's hostility to Corbyn and Labour. I don't really think mainstream media (especially print media), has ever been super relevant to young people, or even most people in society. Social media has created opportunities for a more democratised sharing of knowledge and ideas, but this has filled a void that was already there rather than displacing traditional outlets.”
JAS LUCAS, 20, LABOUR VOTER IN BROXTOWE, NOTTINGHAMSHIRE
“As soon as Corbyn came on the scene, I became a member of the Labour party. He’s genuinely engaged with our generation and I think that’s massive. No matter what, he’s always supported young people, the working class, the vulnerable, etcetera - so no matter what, we should support him back. I don’t pay much attention to mainstream media because I’ve always been very sceptical. The amount of shit Corbyn’s received from newspapers like The Sun has been completely unfair.”
HANNAH WOODHEAD, 22, LABOUR VOTER IN HACKNEY NORTH AND STOKE NEWINGTON
“I have disabled siblings and am disabled myself – we've been majorly affected by Tory cuts to the NHS and benefits. I think this election has proven that the mainstream media is hopelessly biased, and indie media is abler to share their own opinions. Memes and social media have been great for giving a real sense of community to young Labour supporters too, and whilst it's all fun and games, it underlines how important this election was.”
DYLAN WOODWARD, 19, LABOUR VOTER IN EXETER
“I wouldn't say I intentionally steered away from mainstream media, but, I think young people just generally don't engage with it as much. I’m a student without a TV licence and I don't buy newspapers, so I get most of my information from social media and online blogs and websites. I think Corbyn being a different kind of politician and gaining endorsements from counterculture figures on social media allowed young people to rally around him even more.”