If the opinion polls are correct, Labour is solidly ahead of the Tories among potential voters under 40 years old. Among women under 40, 42 per cent favour Labour, against 27 per cent for the Tories. Unfortunately, these same people are less likely to vote. What’s going on?
This generation has long-been identified as hostile to or alienated by politics and politicians. Not doubt, many still are. But what is attracting some of them to Labour? In the first place, underlying and accumulated social changes which have badly affected this group are being directly and positively addressed by Labour’s election manifesto. It is the same reason many joined Labour to vote Corbyn into the leadership.
To deal with a higher education system that has put hundreds of thousands of former students into a life-time of debt, Labour has promised to scrap tuition fees. This will be even more important for those who cannot yet vote, but it is still of tremendous symbolic importance for those who are now paying £9,000 and more every year for a degree when the prospect of any future job, let alone in their chosen field of study, is far from certain.
To sort out the profiteering and slum landlords who rent to “generation rent”, Labour says it will introduce fines for unsafe and substandard accommodation.
To tackle job insecurity and low wages Labour will increase the “living wage” and introduce rights at work from the first day of a job. This is not a full socialist programme but it is a big step forward from the Tories′ (and for that matter, the Blairite Labour Party’s) couldn’t-care-less attitude to young people over decades. It is vital that Labour convinces younger people to register to vote and to vote.
Students who support Labour have an important job to do in getting their fellow students to do the same. And moreover, to get involved in the labour movement. Students should join their local Labour Party and get involved — in fights to save services, in building Labour’s youth wing. They will be repaid with a Labour Party which sticks to its policies and fights for a better world.