Whatever your politics, whatever your views, our nation needs Generation X – Mail Opinion


With the possible exception of William Hague, nobody has ever thought of the opportunity to vote in a general election as the best part of turning 18.

Let’s face it, in terms of the great rites of passage, the chance to make a choice between Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Nicola Sturgeon ain’t going to be at the top of anyone’s coming-of-age to-do list.

Voting has never been a top priority for thrill-seeking 18 to 24-year-olds. And, to be honest, that’s understandable.

But it’s definitely a better idea than taking up smoking and certainly safer than riding a motorbike.

It doesn’t come with the morning-after regret that certain other teenage first-time experiences might involve. Well, not always, anyway.

Voting remains our most powerful, universal form of political expression, more effective than a year’s worth of
status updates.

So easy, but yet so crucial
So easy, but yet so crucial

Admittedly, the individual act of helping to elect a government comes with very few visceral kicks for the adrenaline junkies among our younger generations.

It tends to involve returning to a school one has just vacated rather more quickly than one might have liked.

Dodging some odd, over-friendly, rosetted middle-aged types outside.

And simply placing a cross – no emojis or GIFs, just a cross. In a box. With a pencil.

So there are plenty of reasons not to bother.

But thankfully the majority of hundreds of thousands of voters eligible to vote in their first general election next month will ignore those.

They understand that the reasons to vote far outweigh any counter argument.

Anyone searching for a clincher should look no further than Brexit.

Sixty-four per cent of registered voters across Britain aged 18 to 24 voted in the European referendum last year compared to 90 per cent of over-65s.

And 71 per cent of voters aged 18 to 24 voted to remain in the EU.

You don’t need to be a genius to work out that the biggest political decision for a generation swung on the most anti-Brexit, pro-European section of the eligible voting public staying home.

The bones are still being picked out of that particular decision.

Young people need to exercise right to vote
Young people need to exercise right to vote

As has been said so often before, with no Brexit, there’s probably no President Trump. There certainly isn’t a general election in 2017.

There’s possibly no Emmanuel Macron either.

That single-handedly debunks the old maxim that if voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal. In fact, the last
few years have shown that it changes everything.

The western world is still feeling the effects of a political revolution. One decided not on the streets or in battlefields but at the ballot box.

The truth is that single votes have seldom mattered more.

The generation aged between 18 and 30 have been done precious few favours by the ballot box activities of their elders. They have inherited international uncertainty, low wages, zero-hour contracts and a political system which, at times, looks broken beyond repair.

Opportunities to develop their lives the way their parents and grandparents did – proper jobs, mortgages, business opportunities – are too few.

Some won’t take part on June 8 as a matter of principle. If the system’s knackered, they reason, then don’t engage.

Unfortunately it would appear that, if left to their own devices, older voters might just start breaking it even more.

As has been rehearsed ad nauseum over the past four weeks, there are any number of different motivations to get involved.

General election affects everyone so people need to get out and vote
General election affects everyone so people need to get out and vote

To some, this election is a coronation of Theresa May. To others, it’s a referendum on a referendum, a chance to deliver a verdict on the prospect of an independence referendum.

Or maybe Brexit is your priority and your choice reflects that.

Maybe it’s just all about the candidate.

According to a poll of 18 to 34-year-olds in January, the priorities for young voters are job creation, human rights and the funding of public services.

No one reason is more valid than the other. It’s all in the eye of the beholder. The important thing is to take part, express yourself and make sure your voice is heard.

As detailed on page eight, the Sunday Mail will host a Question Time with an audience of young voters one week before election day.

Ominously, we’ve decided to organise it in a brewery.

If you can’t make it along, it will be broadcast on Facebook Live with full reports to follow in the paper and online.

For the coming weeks, our message to young voters is simple…

Love your vote. And seal it with an X.

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