So last week I attended a meeting in the House of Commons hosted by an organisation called Young Black Grads. It was called “Generation Y vote”. Now among the attendees of the event were many young people who were clearly very politically aware. On the panel there were two prospective MP’s and one elected MP. Their rhetoric gave off the impression that they have been charged with the oh so honourable task of engaging the “am I bovered” generation to get out and vote.
I found this to be hugely offensive and misleading. I raised my hand and made the point that not only are young people more politically active than they were ready to give us credit for but also we are without doubt THE most politically conscious generation of young people in recent British history. The panellists seemed to believe that low voter turn out among 18-24 year olds (which ranges in the region of 42-44%) is symptomatic of apathy. As if to say the only way one can be non apathetic is to vote every five years and be active within the existing political system. It seemed not to occur to them that the low voter turnout could be the result of young people making a conscious decision to abstain from voting as they acknowledge that the mainstream political parties couldn’t be separated by a rizzla!
Many young people are organising and mobilising among themselves for several causes OUTSIDE the existing political framework. I’ve shared company with many youth led organisations; from far left feminist groups to Pan African organisations. All of which have been very active and passionate about furthering their cause. Many of which didn’t believe in voting, not because they don’t care but rather because voting is seen as a fruitless endeavour.
Politicians like to run with the line that “young people don’t feel like politics affects them”. No. We know it does. We just know how voting for you will never affect us for the better.