By Joe James
‘It just feels different this time. It feels like we can really make a difference’
– says Daniel Mills, a twenty-year-old, who next month will make a short walk from his Drumchapel flat to his nearby polling station to vote for the first time.
Recent statistics have revealed that on the 12th of December millions of people like Daniel will be voting for the first time in what is set to be one of the most important General Elections in U.K history.
With the vast majority of the population being more politically aware than ever before, it may be a result of growing party divisions or the constant constitutional deadlock, but people are now more determined than ever to have their say in shaping the direction of the political landscape in the U.K.
Last week, Gov.uk statistics put a spotlight on the growing engagement when it was revealed that during a seven day period over one million people registered to vote for the upcoming election. With it being shown that 1/3 of the general public don’t vote, just how much of a part could this new batch of voters have on shaping the future of the country? Potentially, a huge amount.
Take the last election in 2017 for example; in 11 constituencies, the MP won by fewer than 100 votes, despite, in some cases, having a total of up to 30,000 individuals not even voting.
It’s not just in closely fought constituencies where unregistered voters could have made a huge difference – in 2017, the voting electorate in Boris Johnson’s Uxbridge and South Ruislip voted in majority of the current Prime Minister by over 5,000, picking up a total of 23,716 votes. However, what was kept extremely quiet was the large figure of over 22,000 eligible voters who did not make the trip to vote.
The statistics from Gov.uk also recorded that 33% of newly registered were under the age of 25, which reflected the growing engagement in politics within younger age groups.
Glasgow-born Daniel Mills, currently unemployed, is one of the individuals voting for the first time.
‘I’ve never voted before in my life and never had an interest in politics, but over the last few years I’ve just felt that the current system isn’t working.
‘I have mental health issues and that makes it difficult for me to work, but as recently as last week, after months of being left to wait for an answer, I was deemed fit to work.
‘I just feel after a decade of Tory government, it’s time for a change.’
Some individuals however view the recent surge in youth voter registration with scepticism, suggesting youngsters are instead being cruelly exploited and manipulated.
Business student, Kirsty Stewart, 21 said that ‘voter registration is being promoted heavily on social media – particularly on Snapchat and Twitter in the form of influencers talking about it.
‘They know that it’s going to target young people, specifically because they use those sites the most and they are fairly easily swayed.’
Kirsty also made a point of suggesting that as a result of the influence of social media it is impacting youngsters and directing them towards left wing parties and policies.
‘Left wing party policies mostly contain freebies and are all positive about what they will receive if they are voted in.’
She added: ‘they should actually be realistic about how they will get the funding for it and are instead relying on them being gullible.’
Whilst Kirsty and Daniel represent two different ends of the political spectrum, what they, and millions of other individuals do agree upon is that December’s General Election will have a major significance in choosing the direction of the U.K.