Sunday, November 29, 2009

What do we think young voters care about ... and what do they really care about?

I don't usually reproduce other posts in full but this one from the Speccie about a BBC Politics Show poll is well worth reading:

The Politics Show conducted a fascinating poll into the concerns of voters aged under 20. The Recession Generation are primarily concerned with, well, the recession. Economic recovery, public spending and tax came top of their list of priorities, closely followed by health and education. It’s clear that younger voters have exactly the same concerns as the wider population, and encouragingly for the Tories, those polled prefer David Cameron to Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg by a clear margin of 8 percentage points. The Liberal Democrats attracted only 18% of voters, indicating quite how damaging their tuition fee u-turn has been.

Popular myth dictates that younger voters are consumed by tackling climate change. Intriguingly, climate change came towards the bottom of the list of pressing concerns. Has emerging scientific contention engendered a more general scepticism? Have economic realities created a sense of realism? Or has the relentless noise of Green campaigners initiated ‘green fatigue’? As the great Copenhagen shindig draws near, and ever more ludicrous soothsayings about the world ending next Tuesday are made, the political consensus seems out of touch.

When I did a meeting at the UEA last week I said that in my discussions with students, fees actually came a long way down their agenda behind the economy, jobs, crime and transport. Too often politicans, and the media, decided what they think young people ought to be ineterested in - often its the environment, drugs and international aid. This poll appears, and I realise its only one survey, to reject that suggestion and say that young people focus on the same things that other groups do. I must admit to being very surprised that climate change came so low amongst young people but it shows that the people set the agenda rather than politicans.

As for the voting intentions that didn't surprise me at all; most students I have met both in formal meetings and in the Square/Hive tell me they are as fed up with Labour as everyone else and will be voting Conservative to make sure we are rid of Brown and Clarke.

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