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News | Published November 25 2019

NUS President: "Young people are fed up of being ignored by politicians"

The impact of the youth vote at the 2017 general election remains disputed.

But in some constituencies, such as Sheffield Hallam, students came out in droves to vote for the Labour party, changing the electoral arithmetic and influencing the final result. 

The deadline to register to vote is tomorrow and there has been a huge drive to get young people and students on the electoral roll ahead of December's poll.

To find out more, The Parliamentary Review spoke to the president of NUS, Zamzam Ibrahim. 

Why is it so important for students and young people to register to vote?

It is crucial for students to register to vote so that we can have a say on polling day. We have been ignored by politicians, whether on Brexit, tuition fees or student accommodation, for too long. Enough is enough. Students have been leading the way on all of these topics for decades and it is time that politicians caught up. This will only happen if all students are registered to vote.

The NUS has just launched "When Students Lead" our biggest general election campaign ever and we are sure that students will be voting in record numbers at this election. They will have a massive impact on who will be our next government.

We have been ignored by politicians, whether on Brexit, tuition fees or student accommodation, for too long. Enough is enough.

Where have you been travelling and what have you been up to on the register to vote campaign?

I have been travelling to many of our members such as Brunel, where we launched our manifesto.

From Belfast to Birmingham, London to Liverpool, we’re supporting the brilliant work that our members are already doing up and down the UK to get students registered to vote and prepared to make informed decisions at the ballot box. 

We have been providing SUs with the resources to deliver their own voter registration campaigns and our officers have been out on the ground helping with these. You will see us on campuses all over the country, handing out fliers, at voter registration stalls and giving lecture shout outs.

I have also been working with other organisations across the education sector to ensure a coordinated effort to get students registered. Last week, I met with leaders from all major education trade unions to discuss how we could collaborate in our efforts to get as many students and young people registered to vote as possible. There are some really exciting ideas to come!

I have also been working with other organisations across the education sector to ensure a coordinated effort in getting students registered. 

What are you hearing from students on the campaign, are students telling you they are going to get out and vote?

Young people are passionate about getting involved in this election. They are fed up of being ignored by politicians and want to make their voices heard. We have seen this already this year with climate change protests and anti-Brexit marches - students have been leading these conversations for years and we just want politicians to catch up.

I’ve been hearing from students how motivated they are to make a difference. They want a government that truly represents them and will be delivering on their promises. Students will be voting for a government that will develop a new post-16 education system that is accessible, funded and lifelong, restore maintenance grants across FE and HE and tackle the spiralling costs of student accommodation.

We have seen this already this year with climate change protests and anti-Brexit marches - students have been leading these conversations for years and we just want politicians to catch up.

How will the election date affect students and turning out - won’t many be returning home for the Christmas break?

This government have done all they can to try and stop students from voting. They put forward a bill to introduce Voter ID and they have tried to set the date of the election outside of term time but they should know that students will not be silenced. NUS will be mobilising students in record numbers to get the vote out on polling day.

We are encouraging all students to register to vote at both their home and term-time address and then to look at where their vote will have the most impact. If they are not going to be able to make it to the polling booth, they should register for a postal vote to make sure that they can have their say.

This government have done all they can to try and stop students from voting. 

How do you think the youth turnout will compare in relation to the 2017 general election and the so-called "youthquake"?

The youth vote will be very important at this election. In the first few days after the election was called, we saw  young people registering to vote in record numbers. The so-called "youthquake"looks set to repeat itself.

In the first few days after the election was called, we saw young people registering to vote in record numbers.

What is your message to students and young people about getting out there and registering to vote?

This is the election of our lives and we need to make our voices heard. Students have been at the forefront of political change for the last century, and we will continue to be catalysts for real change. We will always be on the front-line driving this country forward. But we need a government that is prepared to listen, to follow and to act on our demands.

So all students and young people need to register to vote before 26th November and get out there on polling day. We need to send a clear message to all politicians that we will not be silenced any longer because when students lead, others follow, and when students lead, we deliver real change! 

This is the election of our lives and we need to make our voices heard.

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Authored by

Joshua Sandiford
Junior Political Editor
@theparlreview
November 25 2019

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