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Labour's youth support plummets, Greens' surges

Submitted by AWL on 15 June, 2021 - 7:45 Author: Mohan Sen
Youth strike for climate

Voting intention among 18-24 year olds, +/- since 2019 general election (YouGov, 9-10 June):

Labour: 35% (-21)
Green: 27% (+23)
Conservative: 21% (-);
Lib Dem: 12% (+1);
SNP: 3% (-3);
Reform UK: 1% (-)

Other polls have also suggested sharply rising Green support among young people.

The big shift is, surely, one result of Keir Starmer’s attempts to chase after mainly older voters (reckoned, rightly or quite often wrongly, to be tied to socially-conservative attitudes), by taking nationalistic and regressive positions, while having little to say about issues of economics and living standards which have impacted young people most heavily.

Polls of ethnic minority voters, though small in number, are also interesting. They show Green support going from 1% in the general election to 5% last October to 8% in February, overtaking the Lib Dems (Labour down from 64% to 58%, Tories up from 20% to 22%).

Young people vote in much smaller numbers than older people, and the labour movement and Labour Party need to build support among many sections of the working class and the wider population. But Starmer’s approach is not even winning support among older white people. The 9-10 June YouGov poll has the Tories ahead 60-22 among over-65s and 47-29 among over-50s.

Moreover, the turn-out gap between younger and older people is not a given; it only goes back to the 1990s. The turn-out gap between better- and worse-off people has also grown. Inspiring and activating younger and worse-off people is a better focus than attempts to reassure disenchanted older voters with ineffectual “it's alright, we’re really not much different from the Tories”...

Corbyn’s Labour failed to develop solid organisation out of its massive youth support when it failed to build a living Young Labour movement with active local groups, and to rebuild active campus Labour Clubs. Now Starmer’s Labour is dissipating even that diffuse, unorganised support.

Building local Young Labour groups and campus Labour Clubs is still vital. So is drawing many more young workers into trade unions. We must fight Starmer’s pandering to those with conservative views and promote an internationalist and class-based left politics.

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