26 & Counting: ‘Young People Won’t Be Staying Home To See Made in Chelsea’

26 & Counting: 'On 7th May Young People Won't Be Staying Home To See Made in Chelsea'

made-in-chelsea-walking-tour

by Grazia |

If you usually spend Thursdays as I do, watching reruns of How I Met Your Mother and getting irrationally angry at ‘cool-guy’ Barney (he who bangs) and wishing Ted would just, for once, stop with the whining, you have a shock awaiting you come May 7th.

On that pivotal day, E4 has promised to cease airing the inane programmes we can’t tear ourselves away from in the hope that, for just a few hours, we’ll forget that we’re millennials; the lazy, spoiled, politically apathetic generation of no-hopers, and actually vote. There’s something in the move which has the right idea - only, somewhere along the line, the young vote seems to have been misunderstood.

If young people really aren’t set to vote on the day of the General Election in few weeks’ time, it’s not because of E4, nor is it because of unending Friends available on Comedy Central. They won’t be staying at home (due to vast unemployment, probably) because they want to see Binky getting bitchy and Louise cry a bit on Made In Chelsea - it’s because they don’t see anything worth voting for.

The reason anyone fails to vote, young, old, ‘millennial’ or otherwise, is because of political disengagement, and the reason for that is a combination of the perception of centralised politics - a lack of differentiation - and because of the people selling it.

Ironically, I don’t know any people my age who aren’t voting. In fact, I would argue that more people are politically and socially engaged in this generation than they are ever given credit for. But many, rather than being lazy, have reached a decision not to vote - and there's a trend in politics which goes someway to explain why some won’t. The ‘young vote’ is wrapped up in a stranglehold Catch 22 scenario wherein politicians focus on the votes they know will turn up. The biggest electorate group guaranteed to turn up on polling day is the over 65s - 18-24 are less than half as likely as pensioners to say they are sure to vote - and so in the balance policies become more focussed on winning their approval.

With that comes a dearth of real, change-worthy policy for the youth. Voters become increasingly disengaged; they lose faith, or never gain it; they don’t turn up. Crucially - unhelpfully - as a result, politicians think they’ve got it right.

They don’t have it right. What we need more than anything, more than a somewhat patronising TV ban, is solid ideas and delivery on policy which will help the next generation. Labour has got closest to it with their ideas around zero-hours contracts, internships and private renting, but there is a lack of Russell Brand has managed to politicise younger electorate into opposing the vote, Rick Edwards wants us to spoil our ballots - which, if enough people do it, will raise important questions about the state of what’s on offer and how the electorate do that. Why aren’t politicians doing more to win the vote that could carry them through?

Young people are a product of the previous generations and the society around them. Unless politics gets passionate about them, it’s unlikely they’ll get passionate about politics - with or without Hollyoaks.

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