Jessica Murray: Students show how to swing a vote

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The results of the snap general election may not have been the outcome I was hoping for, but there is one surprise result that has certainly put me in a good mood.

Early analysis shows turnout among 18-24 year olds was a record 72 per cent, up from 43 per cent in the last general election, a huge surge in voters which completely swung the result.

The younger generation, sidelined at the EU referendum and 2015 election, has finally had enough, and has fought back with their votes like no other time this century.

Nowhere was this more evident than in Leeds North West, where Liberal Democrat MP Greg Mulholland previously held the seat with a majority of nearly 3,000.

Reports show that the constituency recorded nearly 13,000 new voters in the past few weeks, most of whom are likely to be students, and it was their votes that swung the seat towards Labour, with Alex Sobel receiving over 4000 more votes than his rival.

For the swathes of young people who still think their vote ‘doesn’t count’ or ‘there’s no point’, this result showed that the youth do hold power if we’re only able utilise it effectively. Greg Whitaker, a Leeds University student who voted for Sobel said: “As a student who has lived in this area for four years, I’m delighted for Alex Sobel. He ran a fantastic campaign which not only encouraged traditional Labour voters to politically engage, but also managed to revitalise the under-25 vote in the area, particularly targeting the sizeable student vote.”

The result was probably also helped by Jeremy Corbyn’s stop off at student hotspot Brudenell Social Club as part of his campaign tour.

With only a day’s notice, hundreds of students turned up to show their support, packing out the car park and spilling out into the street.

Never in my life have I seen such passion and enthusiasm for politics from my fellow students; Jeremy Corbyn offered an alternative to the political consensus and a sense of hope that we hadn’t seen before.

While many young people may be disheartened by the prospect of a Conservative/DUP coalition, my only hope is that this trend towards student political engagement, especially here in Leeds, is one of the lasting benefits to come from this election.

Jessica Murray is Editor-in-Chief of The Gryphon at Leeds University.

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