Young UK voters lament their options at upcoming poll

By AFP
June 17, 2024
Students make their way around the London School of Economics campus, in central London, on June 11, 2024.— AFP

LONDON: Many young voters in next month´s UK general election have lived under a Conservative government for most of their lives, with the ruling party having been in power since 2010.

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Gen Z voters -- those born after 1997 -- only made up nine percent of the electorate last time round in 2019.

But they make up around 15 percent this year, according to the National Centre for Social Research, and want to hold the government to account.

Kevin Patel, 26, has been hit by soaring rental prices in London, where he is a postgraduate student, and still lives with his parents.

“With the way it´s looking like, I genuinely don´t know how long I´ll have to wait before I can actually afford my own place”, he told AFP.

In the last few years, a housing shortage and landlords passing on increased costs such as higher energy prices and mortgages have hiked up rent.

Government data last year showed that renters and young people were among the worst-affected by the cost-of-living crisis. Patel, who is historically a Labour voter, said he will likely be voting Labour again, because the party has “better plans” to deal with the rental crisis.

But he is still afraid that neither of the main parties will address the issues. Asked how he feels about his vote, he said: “Cynical, but with a layer of hope underneath.”

Holly Cobb, 21, is a first-time voter from Cambridgeshire in eastern England.

“Since turning 18, I´ve lived through quite a few different prime ministers. But this is the first time I can actually vote for one,” she said.

Top of her wish-list is an increase in allowances for carers like her and fixing the social care system, which lawmakers have warned is enduring “chronic underfunding”.

According to a YouGov poll, health is the second-most important issue for voters aged 18-24 after the economy.

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