29 Apr 2015

Election 2015 #whyvote: Can politicians persuade the young?

A Leeds University survey finds 55 per cent of students still unsure about who to vote for. Jon Snow, once a youthful firebrand himself, is in Leeds to see what this generation has on their minds

Unlike them, my generation got a free education.

Back then, revolution was in the air. In the 1970s I was involved in a sit-in at Liverpool University to try to stop it investing in companies in South Africa.

I was expelled for my trouble.

The young now have just as many reasons to be angry as I did. But have they been swept away by calls from Russell Brand to abstain from voting and a fear of protest harming their job prospects?

Read more: 'Russell Brand is wrong.. we need to vote' - Paloma Faith

In Leeds I’ve found both the refreshing optimism of youth and genuine anxiety about how this generation will prosper in the future. They worry about housing costs, jobs, low pay, the rising cost of being a student, and generational unfairness.

Leeds has over 100,000 students and a recent survey by the University found that 71 per cent do intent to vote, but 55 per cent don’t know yet who they’ll vote for.


Joining me for our live debate were Labour’s Hilary Benn, Brian Paddick of the Lib Dems, Conservative Sam Gyimah, Amelia Womack of the Greens and Ukip’s Nathan Garbutt and 150 young people, partly selected in collaboration with Twitter.