I really dislike the term “millennial” because of the connotations attached to it. There’s the thought that our generation (usually defined as those born in the 80’s/90’s/early 00’s) are entitled, social media obsessed, selfish and disinterested. The media often portrays us as “special snowflakes” who can’t handle the real world.
So I am hesitant about using the term, but for the sake of this blog I’m using it in the most basic sense.
So, why am I addressing this particular generation today? Well, the bombshell fell today, we are having another General Election (so long as it passes with enough votes from Parliament) one that Theresa May promised we wouldn’t have.
In June we will vote for the next leader of our nation, which seems frankly quite exhausting after Referendums, the U.S. Elections and the fallout from both that followed. But here we are.
As a group we have seen a LOT in our voting history. The first time I was able to vote (May 2010) I was beyond enthusiastic. I finally had the right to have my voice heard and I spent hours reading up on parties and policies, and the result utterly floored me. We had a hung Parliament with a coalition that I didn’t expect. We have also seen a Referendum that changed the future of our country forever, and a resignation from our Prime Minister. We now currently have an un-elected PM and an incredibly unsure future.
This is why it is so important that we as a generation are fully engaged in the General Election this year.
If we have democracy, we therefore have the right to not vote. No one can take that away from you. Whether you vote or not is absolutely your own decision, however I would implore you to take time to think about your vote and what it means before you decide not to tick that box.
I’m going to briefly talk statistics. A recent poll taken by research firm Achieve and the Case Foundation showed that more than half of us trust the government only a little or not at all. There is no surprise then that voter turnout for those aged 18-29 is not high. I can understand this disillusionment, but I also find it interesting how many of our generation are out in droves protesting, whether it be the Women’s March, marches against Trump’s visit to the UK or anti-EDL marches, the number of millennials is huge!
We seem to be a passionate and vocal generation, so if we feel so strongly about the outcomes, then we surely need to be engaging in elections.
Of the estimated 24 million people under 30 who voted in the 2016 presidential election, a large majority supported Hillary Clinton, and according to the last YouGov poll before the referendum, 72% of 18 to 24-year-olds were in favour of a Remain vote, while just 19% backed Brexit.
Seemingly, the things that we support are the things that are lacking in support. Which is why it is so incredibly important that our generation is mobile.
We are not a generation that has security and stability. Young people in the UK have the some of the poorest mental wellbeing in the world, new research suggests, with only Japan falling below British millennials by levels of stress and anxiety. The media would like the world to think that it is because we “special snowflakes” need safe space in case we get our feelings hurt, when in reality our generation lacks the stability and future prospects that many of the previous generations had, it’s no wonder that levels of anxiety and depression are through the roof.
I think it is about time we got rid of this label of being lazy and entitled youths with our faces in our phones. It is time we stood up for ourselves and for others who need it. With such high numbers of people suffering from depression, the NHS is key! With lower prospects for employ-ability, we may rely more on the state! With housing seemingly completely unattainable we will need help! And voting for a party that will allow us to have that sense of security is incredibly important, not just for us but for all who are on the fringes or for those who live in poverty!
One thing I do believe about this generation is that it has a social conscience. There have been arguments that the “baby boomers” simply looked after themselves and didn’t think about the repercussions for those who came after them (that’d be us!) But I believe that millennials have a passion for social justice, a genuine want to improve the country, an appreciation of diversity and the drive to support the marginalised.
I can’t tell you how to vote. One can only assume you can gather where my vote will be going, and that is no secret. When the Labour party are promising £10 per hour minimum wage for all over 18, free school meals for all children aged 4-11, renationalisation of the NHS, an end to public sector pay freeze, an end to gender pay cap and an end to zero hour contracts, then for me, it is a no brainer.
I know that not many people particularly like Jeremy Corbyn, I’m not his biggest fan, but I truly believe that the Labour party will do more to benefit a broader spectrum of people than the Conservatives will, and I would hate to think that we had a repeat of Hillary Clinton here. People didn’t like Hilary, fine, but they chose to elect a man that cares little about minorities, who does not protect the poor and vulnerable and who cares very deeply about the wealthy.
I think this is about the bigger picture. Corbyn is not my first choice for Labour leadership, but the party as a whole will, I believe, truly work to make this country better, stronger, and more understanding of each and every type of person.
I repeat, I cannot tell you how to vote, but I can be vocal about my reasons for my vote, and all I ask is that you do the same.
Ask questions! What do you want for this country? What is important to you? Who do you want to protect? What have you liked or disliked from the current government?
I urge you, please get involved. Talk to people in the pub. Listen to each other. Debate. Question the media. Read statistics. Don’t just sit back and allow older generations to determine our fate!
We can be a united generation! They call us snowflakes, well let them see what a blizzard can really do!