With falling voter turnout among the youngest voters, whilst older voters are almost twice as likely to vote, it is absolutely integral we do something to reach out to young people in politics. Continually Westminster ignores the voices of young people; with cuts to funding for youth services, tripling of tuition fees, and lack of job prospects in an ever-more competition driven job “market” – a lack of policies for young people is having a direct impact on youth engagement. Parliament doesn’t seem to be taking this issue seriously either, as Westminster politics further alienates a generation.
In the Young Greens we are starting to see a re-engagement as slowly our rapidly reaches out across social media, with over 100% membership growth this year and a doubling of groups across the country. The Scottish Referendum showed that when young people see that politics is listening to their concerns, from education to jobs, then as a generation we are much more likely to go out and vote.
As the Young Greens grow and become a big force in youth politics, then that leads me to question why the Green Party is being excluded from the TV debates? Was it an oversight? Too “messy” seems a like an escape route rather than a real answer.
The Green Party’s poll rating is holding steady for one of the first times in history. This is specifically the case for the youngest voters, where Greens continually poll over 10%. More than 1,000,000 people voted Green in May 2014, thousands more than who voted for the Liberal Democrats, and we now have 3 MEPs. Caroline Lucas may be our sole voice in parliament due to our electoral system, but our party is equal to UKIP in Westminster and yet they get to appear. We have a member of the House of Lords. We have 2 London Assembly members. We have councillors all over the country, from Lancaster to Cornwall. And our sister parties have representatives on both the Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Assembly.
It’s about time the media checked Twitter a little more often, and opened their eyes to a Party that is in fighting shape to challenge Labour on the left.
What if young people voted in the numbers that older generations do, at maybe 80-90%? Would that impact the Green Party’s national poll rating? Youth politics and the Green Party are tied together for the foreseeable future.
It’s time the media woke up.
Clifford Fleming (Young Greens co-chair)