Wednesday 19-04-2017 - 11:52
On Tuesday, Theresa May surprised us all with the announcement of a snap General Election on 8 June.
This election has come at a critical time for our democracy, which makes it even more important.
The government formed from this election will oversee legislation that will have an overwhelming effect on students, such as the Higher Education and Research Bill and Britain’s exit from the European Union.
Theresa May wants to carry out her vision for Brexit, and she needs to secure the support to do so. We need to fight the worst outcomes of the ‘out’ vote and fight to keep access to Erasmus, to stand up for free movement and refugees, protect workers’ rights and tackle the terrifying rise in hate crime.
We saw developments with the HE Bill in the Lords, where the government was defeated on automatic voter registration and against linking Teaching Excellence Framework to fees, and we need to continue to fight against the HE Bill attacking key parts of our university experiences.
That’s why students need to be at the forefront of this election, because we can’t fight for any of that on a Facebook status or on Twitter. To have a say in our future, we have to do so at the ballot box.
That’s why it’s crucial you register to vote and make sure your voice is heard.
We all know registration levels have been declining for a long time. A study from the Electoral Commission in 2014 found that young people were a particularly under-represented group on the electoral register. Students register to vote in extremely low numbers, and often do not do so at their term-time address.
However young people are becoming increasingly politicised. Contrary to common belief, the youth turnout in the EU referendum was as high as 64 per cent, an increase of 20 per cent from the General Election.
We must now ensure that those young people stay engaged in politics, because this government is still not doing enough to ensure that young people are on the register.
I’ll be lobbying NUS to produce resource packs with ideas for voter registration drives on campus, guidance on postal vote applications, how to work with local councils and election departments to ensure SUs are getting the support they need and ensure that 16-17 year olds have the chance to be involved in the debate.
You need to make sure you register to vote over the next few weeks, and don’t miss this crucial opportunity to fight for change on Thursday 8 June.
You can register in just three minutes by going to gov.uk/register-to-vote.
NUS Vice President Society and Citizenship