Jeremy Corbyn can be Britain’s next Prime Minister. But for it to happen, it will require something that has never happened before. It requires young people to turn up to the polling booths in their droves.
In 2015, just 43% of 18-24 year olds turned up to vote. And given the fact that both main parties towed an extraordinarily uninspiring centrist policy platform, I fully understood why other young voters like myself felt so underwhelmed.
Nowhere was Ed Miliband raving about scrapping tuition fees or properly clamping down on tax evasion. And David Cameron’s 2015 manifesto certainly didn’t advocate renationalising the NHS or the railways. And to top off this apathy-inducing cocktail, both manifestos were also heavily focused on continuing an already-failing policy of austerity and cuts to vital public services.
With policies as bland and banal as Miliband’s and Cameron’s, it’s little wonder that young voters felt that their vote wouldn’t be worth anything.
But just two years down the track and things have changed drastically. The 2017 Labour manifesto is the polar-opposite of its Tory counterpart. It contains some of the most radical policies Britain has seen since Clement Attlee introduced the NHS and the Welfare State in 1945. Policies that, to British eyes at least, might seem relatively far out, but are actually already perfectly mainstream implementations in much of Europe and Scandinavia.
And, what’s more, Labour’s manifesto is chock full of ideas that will benefit the lives of young people immensely.
For starters, Corbyn is proposing to scrap tuition fees completely; he’ll reintroduce bursaries for trainee health professionals, and re-implement the Educational Maintenance Allowance (EMA) for students. He’s going to raise the minimum wage to £10 an hour, cap private rent rises and secure private tenancies, whilst also introducing a charter of private tenants’ rights.
To top it off, Corbyn is also promising to lower the voting age from 18 to 16.
These policies are monumentally different from anything the Tories are offering young people. And they’re also far beyond anything Labour was offering in 2015 under Miliband. If these hugely beneficial policies aren’t enough to motivate young people to turn out on June 8th, not much will.
Since Jeremy Corbyn’s successful Labour leadership campaign in 2015, young people have flocked to join the party as members. Labour are now the biggest political party in Western Europe, boasting a membership of significantly over half a million and counting – with young people making up a large proportion of these numbers.
But despite these impressive figures, it will mean nothing if the party cannot motivate traditionally apathetic sections of society to turn out at the polling booths on June 8th.
Recent polls have indicated that two thirds of young people are certain to vote, and this is an extremely impressive start. But to thrust Mr Corbyn into number ten, it would require even more.
Young people have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to elect a politician who has a proven track record of putting the needs of young people front and centre. Jeremy Corbyn is a man who truly understands that our young are the future – people to be nurtured and inspired, not treated like cash-cows or workhorses for unscrupulous landlords and employers.
If young people don’t seize this opportunity now, they will be forced to endure another five years of the Conservatives. Five years in which cuts to education will increase and private rents will soar. Young people will suffer yet more rises to tuition fees and see vital money withheld from our NHS by a callous Tory leadership intent on reducing standards to justify further privatisation.
We have been given a clear and obvious choice in this election. If you fail to grasp it with both hands, the Tories will make you regret your decision for every single day of the next five years. And almost certainly more.
Phone your Grandparents and phone your friends. Knock on doors and rally the troops. We need the whole squad present and correct on June 8th.
This time, EVERY VOTE WILL MAKE A DIFFERENCE.
Let’s do this.