​three young women from across the political spectrum on why we need to vote remain

At last year’s election we spoke to young women – the group least likely to vote – about politics and voting in the General Election. We’ve gone back to them to gauge the mood ahead of the EU Referendum this Thursday.

by Candice Pires
20 June 2016, 11:20am

photography holly falconer

As with all recent UK voting, young people are again predicted to be more absent from the ballot box than older people. Meanwhile there is the chicken and egg question of whether that's because politics doesn't interest them or that they don't interest politicians.

Just before the 2015 General Election we spoke to the people least likely to vote - young females - to get some inside views. We've revisited three from across the political spectrum to see how they feel about the EU Referendum and whether their engagement has changed in a politically tumultuous year. One thing's for certain though, among the women we did speak to: their opinions are a lot more similar to each other than before.

Mems Ayinla, 21, student at University of Warwick Voted Labour, voting Remain.
"I went to a debate about the EU Referendum, where Boris Johnson was arguing to leave. There was a clear divide in the audience. The older people wanted to leave, the younger people wanted to stay in. The reasons why people want to leave don't make sense to me. They say they want to reclaim Great Britain, but I don't know what that means.

At the end of the debate it got rowdy and someone said, 'This is not about cartoon politics.' The Leave campaign basically think young people's politics are 'cartoon politics' because it's not all about economics but about social things too. I felt so frustrated that more older people are registered to vote than younger people.

There are a lot of young people who are political, just not about party politics. I've seen more of it this year. More on identity politics, especially with the LGBT community, the trans community, the BME community. I'm Co-President of Warwick Anti Racism Society. We do stuff that's about self-awareness, learning about what it is to be a person of colour and some of the challenges we go through.

I'm no longer limiting myself just to party politics anymore like I did last year. After the general election I was really disappointed. I was so shocked Labour lost so many seats. I did campaign for Sadiq Khan's mayoral election, which I'm still ecstatic about. I really wanted to help the first Muslim mayor of London be elected. I felt like there was actual change.

I like identity campaigning because it's not just, 'What's Nigel Farage doing? What's Boris Johnson doing?' That gets really tiring to hear. They take up every headline and that's not the only thing going on in the world. We've totally forgotten about the refugee crisis, we've become so self-absorbed. I can't wait for this Referendum to be over."

Katrice Russell, 19, student at Lancaster University. Voted Conservative, voting Remain.
"Since last year's general election, my engagement with politics has fluctuated. I still find it interesting but the amount of attention I give it has dropped. I've gone from college to university and there's so much to get involved with here that politics is no longer my priority. I still watch Prime Minister's Questions and talk to one of my flatmates about it.

I'm voting to remain. There are compelling arguments on both sides but having done my research I think it's better for the economy and the UK as a whole to stay. I looked into EU funding, employment - because there's been a lot of nasty remarks about people stealing jobs, and immigration. Those who want out suggest that leaving the EU would control immigration but personally I don't think that's possible. It's better for us to remain and attempt to negotiate something from within the EU.

The Leave campaign has shocked me. They're playing on the fear factor and using moral panic to support their arguments. They know the older generation is scared of immigration. They're getting the British public to feel that immigration is a genuine issue. They're also pushing that it's possible to heavily influence trade negotiations with other countries if we leave, despite evidence suggesting otherwise. I think they're going to win because younger people aren't likely to vote despite the campaigns.

Just like how the Leave campaign has been successful in speaking to the older generation, I think it would have been cool if more effort was made to interact with younger people. In the future we need to do that in a non-partisan way by teaching people throughout their school years the importance of democracy and voting."

Sophie Drabble, 21, administrator from Sheffield. Voted Liberal Democrat, voting Remain.
"I don't really keep up with politics but from what I've gathered, I'd rather stay in than leave. My friends around the same age as me want to stay in but then my family who are older, like my grandparents, they want to leave.

I do think there's more reading I need to do before voting day, but from talking to friends and seeing things on social media I'd rather stay in because of not being able to easily emigrate to Europe and restrictions on travel. From the start my general impression of it all was that I didn't want this vote to happen anyway. I don't think we fully know the consequences of leaving and it's not a risk I'd like to take.

I voted for the Liberal Democrats in the last general election - it didn't feel like it made a difference. When I found out the Conservative Party had won I was really disappointed. But I was glad I voted still. I'd probably vote Lib Dem or Labour next time. It depends if Jeremy Corbyn is still leader because I'm definitely not voting for him - he's a little too radically left for me.

But I don't think I'll ever be that interested in politics, to be honest. I don't feel there's anyone out there trying to speak to me directly."

On Thursday 23 June, however you're voting, vote.


Text Candice Pires

eu referendum
young voters