Where is the youth voice at this general election?

Where is the youth voice at this general election?

The focus of media coverage of the campaign has been on the interrogation of veteran politicians - Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron - by long-in-the-tooth broadcasters - David Dimbleby, Andrew Neil, Jeremy Paxman - on the traditional medium of television.

Many young voters don’t watch mainstream TV.

They are getting their political education from the fevered environment of social media and highly-partisan political blogs and websites, from the repugnant Breitbart News on the right to some of its equivalents in the radical Alt-Left media.

This is a polarised world of aggression and insults. Contributors often conceal their identities as they go about fomenting hatred. State-sponsored propagandists appear to be feeding this angry clamour, using bot accounts to spread discord and fake news that poisons the democratic process. It is far from healthy.

The Exchange is an attempt to do things differently.

Young people from diverse political backgrounds are given a platform to express their views in a non-confrontational environment where they respect the opinions of those with a different party allegiance.

They speak on camera, via Google Hangouts, and make no secret of their political colours. But unlike most MPs and party activists, the young participants on The Exchange are not afraid to step away from the party line and to express passionately their personal views.

How refreshing in our latest edition, ahead of the UK general election on 8 June, to hear young Labour supporter Danny Bartlett say that, even when the Labour manifesto is promising the abolition of student tuition fees, he thinks that higher education is something worth paying for.

And then to hear his Conservative counterpart Robbie Travers, admit that he disagrees with planned Tory restrictions on foreign students at UK universities and sees such people as a route to building a better higher education system.

We hear from these two, and other speakers from the Liberal Democrats and the Scottish National Party, on some of the issues that matter most to young people ahead of this election; Brexit, youth unemployment, tuition fees, housing, terrorism.

Previous editions of The Exchange have brought a fresh and youthful perspective to the US and French election campaigns.

In my industry, advertising, billions of dollars are devoted to the obsession of tracking the all-important 18-34 demographic and attempting to gauge its interests and intentions.

So why is this generation treated as inconsequential when it comes to politics?

Kate Robertson is the cofounder of One Young World.

Check out topic highlights from The Exchange:


Youth employment

Education & tuition fees


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