Do students care about who runs their country?

Are students as apathetic as the stereotype runs? Jamie Crow finds out how engaged they are

At Conservative National Conference a few weeks ago, I was happily surprised at the number of members under the age of 30 who had turned up to represent their own areas for the youth section of the party.

It was interesting to see the opinions that some of them had on Britain's future, some of which were quite extreme. There were people, some of whom hadn't even started university yet, who were talking about changing the world, using the current government as icons.

And I'm willing to bet there were similar situations as each political party met over the course of September. The televised highlights of Ed Miliband's speech showed him swamped by young people, all attracted to change and a new start for the Labour Party.

The Tories took a similar approach; their main slogan for the conference was the now infamous “For hardworking people”, a phrase which is still ringing in the ears of the public, for better or for worse.

Steve Richards’s panel on the 2015 General Election for the Independent was an interesting tribute to the trials and tribulations that the Y generation must face as we take responsibility for Britain’s affairs. Nothing seemed so important.

But when I returned home to the North East, and got back into daily life, I was faced with a sudden lack of knowledge amongst students when it came to the Government.

No-one likes “the Government”. That's usually the general consensus. But it seems now that students are less interested in politics than ever before. The number of people aged 18-24 voting fell in both previous elections. Young people seem to care less.

And political parties seem to be taking their eyes off the ball when it comes to the interests of young people.

Yes, there are those who are willing to listen, but there are many others who are more likely to go with what Mum and Dad do.

Jacob Young, a youth member for his local party, is trying to get young people more involved.

“Politics is how we determine government,” he says. “If we stop caring about politics, we stop caring about government.

“Government affects so much of our lives every day. It decides whether or not we go to war, how much tax we pay, and goes right down to whether or not your road needs resurfacing.

“Everyone should be involved with local politics because you really can make a difference!”

However, not everyone is convinced.

Katie Riley, 20, studying TV and film production, says: “I probably will vote in 2015, but the system is too complicated. But I don’t think it really matters regardless, the people who will win, will win no matter what.”

Alex Flowers, 19, studying multimedia journalism, says: “Students aren’t bothered because both parties are exactly the same. Same parties, different names.”

Matthew Bland, 38, also studying TV and film production, agrees.

“I’m more about ethics, mainly for the working class, as soon as someone comes into power they usually tend to look after themselves.”

What’s the solution?

It comes down to the Generation Y. The children of the 1990s, born in the post-Thatcher era, are not used to extreme reforms that were proposed, such as privatisation and poll tax. Young people are used to their lives, and don’t see the Government as an influential force.

It is only in extreme circumstances, such as the NUS tuition fee protests in 2011, that we see students rise to the occasion, when there is a situation that can drastically change thousands of 18-year-olds’ finances overnight. And if these events do not occur, then the same people will be unaware of who they would be voting for in 18 months’ time.

But there needs to be a greater strategy, and there needs to be a greater interaction between young constituents and their MPs, otherwise what is possibly the biggest election of our time will pass by, and young people will not have had their say.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Student

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Guru Careers: Graduate Media Assistant

Competitive (DOE): Guru Careers: We are looking for an ambitious and adaptable...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: At SThree, we like to be differe...

Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before