New research shows that the turnout among young people didn’t affect the results as much as expected. Instead, young people shunned the Liberal Democrats and voted for Labour by a higher margin than ever before.
While new numbers published by YouGov show that the class divide has seemingly closed, with an almost equal share across the two major parties, the age divide has shifted into focus.
Early polls suggested as many as 72% of young people voted in this election, an unprecedented high turn out amongst the youth. But new figures suggest that whilst the turnout was higher than ever, it was still comparatively low, with 59% of the 20 to 24 year olds coming out to vote compared to 69% overall.
“I am disappointed that Corbyn didn’t win the election,” says 22-year old university student Georgina Laud. “But the result for the majority of Labour supporters does feel like a victory as many, many young people saw that their vote did actually make a difference, and that they could help decide their future.“
The age group with the highest turnout are those aged over 70. 84% of them marked their ballot in this election. This group also overwhelmingly voted for the Conservative party.
So what accelerated Labour’s surge wasn’t so much the high turnout among young people or the elderly losing trust in the Tories due to their previously suggested ‘dementia tax’, but the fact that young people voted for Labour by a bigger margin than ever before.
18 to 19 year olds voted overwhelmingly in favour of Labour. Amongst young first time voters, the Labour party was 47 percentage points ahead of the Conservatives.
Achieving an almost consistent vote share within the different age groups, with a dip towards the youngest as well as the oldest voters, the Liberal Democrats couldn’t cash in on their promise of a second referendum.
This not only shows that young voters have turned their backs on the party and haven’t forgiven their u-turn on the promise not to raise fees after the 2010 election but also demonstrates that Brexit probably wasn’t as big a driving force in this election as expected.
“Previously, I had voted Liberal Democrats, but I felt their flip flop on tuition fees was unforgivable,” says Georgina Laud. “How can you trust a party who make a promise and, as soon as they get the means to follow through on said promise, immediately renege on it?”
The LibDems’ hopes of winning back the youth with a pro remain stance and a manifesto that included the legalisation of cannabis have, according to the figures, been to no avail.
What instead convinced young people to vote so overwhelmingly for Labour was a combination of their manifesto and and their leader.
Laud states that “Jeremy Corbyn’s attitude towards young people and the working class is nothing but positive; wanting to raise minimum wage (I myself work a minimum wage job), wanting to abolish tuition fees. I am a student and my youngest brother is just about to go to university, and I don’t want him to be saddled with debt.”
She thinks that even more young people will turn out next time: “I think they’ve seen that the result can be changed by a younger vote and that means that more and more of my generation will feel like they have a say in the future of their country.”
Althought the turnout might not have won the election for the Labour party this time around, it might tip the scales towards Corbyn’s party the next time.