A general election is finally upon us. Young people will play a crucial role in securing a Labour victory.
In this period of capitalist crisis, students are looking for bold answers to society’s problems. The popularity of socialism and the enthusiasm for a Corbyn-led Labour government has never been so high.
Surge of support
Boris Johnson had threatened to pull his Election Bill if an amendment to extend the franchise to 16 and 17 year-olds passed. He knew that this would have handed a comfortable election victory to Labour.
For the same reason, Johnson pushed for a 12 December polling day, when university students are less likely to still be on campus. In many important marginal seats, as with Canterbury in 2017, the student vote will be pivotal.
Two months ago, when a snap general election was being proposed by the Tories, over 100,000 people registered to vote within 48 hours. 58% of these applications were from people aged 34 and under.
Now, within 48 hours of this general election being called, a further 316,267 people have registered to vote. 65% of these are aged 34 and under.
In 2017, two-thirds of 18-to-24 year-olds supported the Labour Party. The turnout for the age bracket shot up from 43% in 2015 to over 66% in 2017. This time round, one recent poll showed that 36% of 18-to-39 year-olds intended to vote Labour. Next best were the Lib-Dems, on a paltry 19%.
What is crystal clear is that the support of young people - desperate for radical change - will be decisive. With the addition of more young voters, Labour could see a huge boost, whilst the Tories would face oblivion.
Votes at 16 now
The youth are a sensitive barometer of the mood in society. They are the first to rebel when the system is in crisis, as it is today.
Time and time again it’s been young people at the forefront of anti-establishment votes, from the independence referendum in Scotland, to Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party.
The school climate strike movement has proven that young people have a burning desire to participate in and influence the political landscape. Indeed, with their instinctive revolutionary demands they have a greater understanding of what is necessary than the ‘grown-ups’ in Westminster.
We therefore support the call for votes at 16. This would enfranchise around 1.4 million young people in the UK.
But for the same reasons, the establishment knows that 16-to-18 year-olds are a dangerous group to give a political voice to. The ruling class understands that the demands of young people – the most energetic and dynamic section of society – threaten their position and interests. They therefore have no intention of reducing the voting age.
Socialist Appeal activists, student Marxist societies, and Labour clubs have been joining forces under the banner of Students4Corbyn on campuses across the country to mobilise students for a Corbyn victory.
In Sheffield, for example, a joint campaign of students and young workers has already knocked on hundreds of doors in student accommodation blocks; spoken to thousands of students about registering to vote; held regular campus stalls; and used shout-outs in lectures to encourage students to campaign and vote for Labour.
The enthusiasm of young people - on and off campus - for Corbyn’s radical programme is palpable. Policies such as scrapping tuition fees, abolishing private schools, and fighting for a Green Industrial Revolution are extremely popular.
We’re gearing up for the fight of our lives. And it is this energy that Students4Corbyn is channelling in the campaign for a socialist Labour government.
All out for a Corbyn victory!
With the mass support of young people and students, 500,000 members, and the wider labour movement, Labour’s campaign has a potentially unstoppable force at its disposal.
After a decade of savage attacks on working-class communities, it is more important than ever to mobilise the full weight of the labour and student movements in order to turf out this rotten Tory government.
The best way to galvanise workers and youth is with bold socialist policies. On this basis, with a mass campaign, we can win this general election and transform society for the many, not the few.