Rebecca Clark - Use your vote: Let’s turn the low youth turnout around!

Rebecca Clark is a Nutmeg Volunteer with a keen interest in politics. At 16, Rebecca cannot vote in the upcoming mayoral election. However she believes the youth vote is key and is speaking out here to inspire her older peers to use their vote, read her convincing argument below:

Your vote is your voice.

Let’s face it. Politicians act in the interests of their voters – and if you’re not one of them, then no one’s going to take your views into account. This is very worrying for young people, whose turnout at elections is consistently lower than that of the older generation. In the general election last summer, young people were almost half as likely to vote as those aged 65+. If those same turnout levels repeat themselves this May, it’ll be an act of self-harm. Put simply, the new London Mayor will pander to the elderly, leaving young people with rising transport fares, lack of apprenticeship opportunities, no way onto the property ladder, and an environmental mess to deal with.

It might sound cynical, but statistics show that this kind of thinking is true. Since 2010, the average voter has lost £1,850 per year on public spending cuts, whilst the average non-voter has lost £2,135 per year. Government policies such as the hiking of university tuition fees and the scrapping of the education maintenance allowance have tended to hit young people the hardest, whilst pensioners still receive privileges such as free fuel allowance and bus passes, regardless of how rich they are.

And it’s a vicious cycle. Politicians appeal to older voters, so young people feel marginalised and consequently don’t vote, which means that politicians continue to ignore the problems of young people, and so on in a downward spiral of declining youth turnout and an ever-quieter youth voice in politics. We cannot let this happen.

On May 5th, it’s not just London’s future at stake. It’s yours.