Column: The Crucial Youth Vote

By Ashutosh Mishra

London: There is tremendous enthusiasm among the youth for the upcoming Christmas election in the country. Authorities received more than 300,000 applications for registration as voters within 48 hours of elections appearing inevitable and then being confirmed.

Of these nearly two-thirds came from people aged 34 or less while those over 65 constituted only four per cent. One newspaper estimates that this could help the Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn after a YouGov survey last week showed that 40 per cent of under-25s approve of him compared to only 12 per cent for Tory Prime Minister, Boris Johnson.

It is believed that Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson, who has vowed to cancel Brexit if elected, could also benefit from this as younger voters tend to back staying in the EU. But irrespective of who it benefits the trend of registration is being welcomed. One of the papers quoted Willie Sullivan of the Electoral Reform Society, a pressure group pushing for electoral reforms, as saying that since younger people and renters were most at risk of being missing from the poll register it was good to see a surge in registrations. “ But, with up to 9.4million people missing from the electoral roll, there’s a long way to go before we close the gap,” he said.

Citing figures the newspaper said that weekday applications to register as voters have averaged about 37,000 in the past month but 139,162 were submitted on last Tuesday as the December 12 general election was confirmed, and 177,105 on Wednesday. Overall, 103,848 applications were from people under the age of 25 and 101,933 from those between 25 to 34.

Interestingly, the survey that the newspaper has quoted shows that 75 per cent of under-25s do not think highly of Prime Minister, Boris Johnson while 44 per cent of them have a low opinion of his main rival, Labour leader, Jeremy Corbyn. Ms Swinson, on the other hand, has the approval of 15 per cent while 31 per cent oppose her.

Meanwhile, both Johnson and Corbyn have hit the campaign trail with a vengeance with the former insisting that his Brexit deal was ‘oven-ready’ and just needed to ‘go in the microwave’.

Asserting that Britain would leave the European Union ‘by the absolute latest by January next year’ he blamed the Parliament for thwarting his October 31 ‘do or die’ pledge. On a visit to a hospital in Cambridge he said he was ‘incredibly frustrated’ at missing the target. “We had a fantastic deal on the table; the House of Commons voted it through then they voted again for delay. We have an oven-ready deal; let’s put it in the microwave as soon as we get back after the election on December 12,” he was quoted as saying.

On the other hand Corbyn, who received a rousing welcome from supporters as he kicked off his campaign, has been poking fun at Johnson by reminding voters of the Prime Minister’s do or die pledge to deliver Brexit by October 31. “ He said he would rather be dead in a ditch than delay beyond today. But he has failed and that failure is his alone,” Corbyn told a rally of supporters on October 31. Verbal duels between him and Johnson are set to intensify as the campaign progresses. It is going to be an engaging battle.

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