For those of you interested in voter intention polls, the latest results from YouGov for the Sunday Times are as follows: Con: 33%; Lab: 39; UKIP: 12%; Lib Dem: 10%. Since this website launched last month, we have been tweeting the daily polling results on most evenings. These results have barely moved during that time.

But beneath those headline figures lies a whole host of more detailed, and rather more interesting results: voting intention by region (we’re doing best in the South excluding London at 15%; worst in Scotland at 2%); voting intention by 2010 vote (84% of Labour voters in 2010 intend to vote Labour again, versus just 39% of Liberal Democrat supports who would still vote Lib Dem – good news for those of you campaigning in Liberal seats).

And by age. In the poll taken over 14th & 15th November (ie last Thursday and Friday), only 4% of those in the 18-24% age bracket were thinking of voting UKIP, rising steadily to 15% of those aged 60+.

Voting intention / age

18-24

25-39

40-59

60+

Conservative

33

24

32

40

Labour

32

45

44

31

Liberal Democrat

23

13

6

9

UKIP

4

10

13

15

Would not vote

20

10

6

3

Don’t know

16

15

13

17

 

It is clear from these figures that if we want to advance in the polls and to secure wins at the ballot box, we must reach out to younger voters. And whilst it is also true that the largest percentage of non-voters are in that age bracket, it’s also true that four out of five 18-24 year olds intend to cast a vote.

Our headline policy, EU immigration, directly affects young voters. How many times have our leaders spoken on television, in newspaper interviews and during speeches, about the 1,000,000 British youngsters who are out of work thanks to an influx of unskilled immigration from across the Union? How many times has that mention of young people been in the abstract – talking about young people rather that to them?

Over the summer I had some young family friends – a brother and sister aged 18 and 21 – come to stay for the weekend. They asked me why my Facebook page was always covered in political stuff, and why I’d chosen to join UKIP. I told them that I liked what Nigel Farage had to say, and that I trusted him more than Cameron. They asked who Nigel Farage was.

I have been banging a drum for the past few years on the need to move politics into the world of modern communications technology. This is particularly important when trying to engage with young people, to whom social media is an integral part of every day life. Politics, for the average 21 year old, conjures up images of the 10 o’clock news, Boris Johnson making silly speeches, and incomprehensible shouting in the House of Commons. It’s distant, it’s meaningless, it has no direct relevance to their lives. My young friends told me that they would not be voting as they didn’t know enough about it.

Yet there is no reason that we shouldn’t be connecting with a younger audience. As the Evening Standard put it in an article about UKIP’s appeal to young voters:

“Many people who are fed up with mainstream politics have been attracted to UKIP precisely because it is not a conventional party. They like Farage’s spontaneity, and the almost anarchic pleasure he takes in voicing opinions that he knows will upset the political establishment. For its youth wing, many of whom describe themselves as libertarians, this sense of a maverick determined to set the cat among the pigeons also appeals.”

In June of this year, The Economist looked at polling and discovered that Generation Y (people born in the 1980s and 90s) is more classically liberal than any previous generation still with us:

“… those aged 18 to 24 are also more likely than older people to consider social problems the responsibility of individuals rather than government. They are deficit hawks. They care about the environment, but are also keen on commerce: more supportive of the privatisation of utilities, more likely to reject government attempts to ban branding on cigarette packets and more likely to agree that Tesco, Britain’s supermarket giant, “has only become so large by offering customers what they want”.”

That magazine concluded that today’s economic climate, in which young people have to be far more competitive than previous generations to succeed, had inculcated an understanding of, and respect for market-based solutions. Failure on the part of successive governments to make good their promises of high quality state institutions had also played a part. Most young people don’t expect to be receiving a state pension by the time they reach retirement.

GenY

And yet, the Westminster parties haven’t internalised this shift yet. Their solutions and offerings still revolve around government spending, subsidy and interventionist measures. Only UKIP proclaims itself as libertarian and has the policies to back up the claim.

We in UKIP can and should be speaking directly to young people about the problems they face: unemployment in the face of mass immigration, yes, but also rising housing costs, lack of financial stability, concerns over the coming pensions crisis, the fact that this generation may well be the first not to enjoy a better quality of life than their parents. As the only party not to have played a part in creating the situation, we are uniquely placed to offer a real alternative to young people worried about what the future might hold.

And now I too find myself talking about young people in the abstract, rather than to them!

This week, UKIP Daily is interested in hearing the voices of our younger members. We asked: how can UKIP attract more voters in the 18-24 year old age bracket? What sort of policies do we need to put in place? How would you like to interact with us? What challenges and opportunities are to be found within the realms of our younger members?

Young people of UKIP: we need you to be our eyes and ears amongst your peer group. We need your energy when it comes to mass leafleting campaigns, your boundless enthusiasm on polling day, your ideas on how to move beyond conventional campaigning into the modern era. In return, we offer meaningful solutions to the problems you face. Together, we can work towards a brighter future.

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