The election has been a roller coaster for all involved. Since April 18th, the date Theresa May called the snap general election, there have been hundreds of predictions, opinion articles and clips of politicians knocking on doors. However, even the best experts couldn’t have predicted the sheer volume of young voters that went to the polling stations this time around.
It is known to be notoriously hard to convince the 18-25 year-old voters to leave their houses and make their way to their local polling station but something was different this time around. In the last four general elections, the youth turnout always hovered around 40%, less than half of those able to vote. This time early reports suggest that almost three quarters, 72%, of young people who were able to vote did so.
This is an amazing feat and it can be argued that this is all down to one man. Jeremy Corbyn. So, how was it that the labour candidate managed to defy all odds and do something no other leader has been able to do in recent years by inspiring the young to vote?
The British grime scene has been steadily becoming more popular over recent years, with the music genre becoming far more accessible than ever before. Over the past year, during labour’s leadership issues, many grime artists and MCs voiced their support for Jeremy Corbyn and the hashtag, #Grime4Corbyn, was born.
As the 2017 general election was announced, huge names in the grime genre such as Stormzy, JME and Novelist made their loyalties known. In an interview with The Guardian, Stormzy proclaimed “My man Jeremy! I dig what he says.”
Already the hashtag began to gain serious momentum as other grime artists such as AJ Tracey tweeted out their support for the leader. Taking advantage of this, Labour got together with JME and filmed a series of interviews and snapchats between the grime star and the labour leader which reinforced the hashtag’s legitimacy.
Grime artists, who are most commonly followed by youth living in the UK, were using their platform to convince those who many deemed inconvincible, to vote.
At no point did these artists speak down to their audiences, which must have been refreshing; instead, they spoke from their heart and gave Corbyn support through fun and creative methods.
A website named Grime4Corbyn was created, encouraging young voters to do their part by offering fans of the genre tickets to a secret grime show if they registered to vote and a track named “Corbyn Riddum” was recorded, which has now been listened to by 85.8k people.
NME & Kerrang
NME and Kerrang, two magazines usually reserved for music news and reviews, both published pieces on the Labour leader and had him appear on their front cover, a spot usually reserved for iconic rock singers. NME chose to do a two-page spread where Jeremy Corbyn answered questions from readers. The front page depicted the leader, the lettering below him simply reading out ‘We offer hope’.
The piece asked honest questions from actual young people and Jeremy answered equally as honestly. NME actually surveyed 1,000 British millennials at the time and found that 41% were intending to vote labour.
The published spread appeared both online and in print, reaching more than 5 million readers of the magazine.
Kerrang too depicted the leader on their front cover along with the statement “Take the power back!” On this cover he was joined by Architects frontman, Sam Carter, and Creeper singer Will Gould.
In this interview, Jeremy spoke about how he thought arts and creative industries should be open to everyone and that more support is needed for theatres and music venues. He completely tapped into the likes of those that read the publication, stating that “primary school kids of today are the musicians of tomorrow.”
There are two policies that would get young people talking the most – free alcohol (we wish) and lowering tuition fees. Jeremy knew the latter would give him a surge in popularity but no one knew just how many would go for this policy, especially after the betrayal many young people felt after Liberal Democrats claimed the same thing in the 2010 election.
On the final day for registration, 22nd May, more than 207,000 people aged 18-24 submitted an application to be put on the electoral register. Many believed this to be down to the announcement that Labour would be scrapping tuition fees and reinstating maintenance grants for students from low-income backgrounds.
As well as grime stars, Jeremy had a whole roster of celebrities backing him throughout his campaign. Always Sunny In Philadelphia star, Danny DeVito tweeted multiple times, letting those living in the UK know that they should vote for Corbyn if they wanted change; he even used the hashtag #Grime4Corbyn. The star is incredibly popular with young adults due to his role on the cult show and the plethora of other roles he’s had in movies and TV shows. Jeremy quote tweeted the stars’ statement saying “If Danny Devito is saying you should register to vote then you really should.”
Alongside Danny were stars such as Rag’n’Bone Man, who tweeted a picture of him wearing Corbyn merchandise, rapper M.I.A, who compared Jeremy Corbyn to Princess Diana, and electronic music group, Clean Bandit, with member Grace Chatto wearing a Corbyn t-shirt to the One Love Manchester concert. This is naming just a few of the famous supporters Corbyn had that would appeal to the younger age bracket of voters.
Jeremy Corbyn has never taken himself too seriously throughout this campaign, which has led to him feeling far more approachable to young people than May ever seemed.
He appeared on The One Show with homemade jam, spoke about his garden, and burnt Theresa May for not showing up to the TV debates after announcing on the day that he would be attending.
In response to Theresa May saying that the naughtiest thing she had ever done was to run through wheat fields, he said that his was ‘far too naughty to even say’ with a twinkle in his eye.
He was always willing to laugh at himself, along with his voters which made him seem like you could easily have a pint with him. You’d be hard pressed to find someone who would like to go down to their local for a pint with May.
Finally, Jeremy Corbyn inspired young people to vote by using their love of social media to educate and communicate to others.
Amongst the serious talk were jokey memes claiming that Corbyn was a ‘lad’ and Facebook pages which photoshopped Jeremy’s face onto stills from famous movies. This was all incredibly shareable content and Jeremy played into it perfectly.
Friends would share serious posts with a jokey meme, giving the impression that Corbyn was relatable; more so than May.
Even though Jeremy didn’t win the majority, he managed to increase voter turnout in young people drastically which is something politicians have been trying to achieve for over a decade now. His momentum has surely been set and I don’t think we’ll see it slow down anytime soon as long as he keeps those aged 18-24 happy.