Registration to vote in the upcoming UK general election closes at 11:59PM on Sunday 22 May.
Here, nine UK artists discuss the significance of this election and explain why they think it’s vital that young people register now and vote on 8 June.
Register to vote here.
Metronomy’s Joe Mount
“My mum has always forced the importance of free education upon me, so I’ve been subconsciously engaged for a long time. I went on an education march with her in the late 90s; that was my first real active involvement in anything political. Young people need to vote because at the moment the older generation are seriously threatening their futures. The concerns of young people are so much more important than the concerns of people closer to the end of their lives. It sounds harsh, but it’s entirely true. I think they just have to be encouraged to look ahead. Fair enough, it’s hard when you’re young, but sadly the older you become the more you will regret being less interested in politics at a younger age.
There are always threats to arts funding etc., but for the most part my interest has nothing to do with my career. I have two children who I am bringing up as open-minded people; I already feel like my efforts are being scuppered by the wider political world. I am still undecided on who I’ll vote for, but I will not be voting Conservative.”
“I didn’t really pay much attention to politics when I was younger. I don’t think I really saw it as something important until I got to college and the discussion around student fees became prominent. It was around then that I really started to pay attention to it.
I think a lot of young people think that their vote isn’t important. Well, their vote isn’t important because they’re not registered. Until you register, the people who run the country don’t have to listen to you. You’re not a voter – you’re an occupant. Registering gives you that say, it validates your opinion that these people don’t care about you. They don’t have to care about you until you register. You have to unlock it. I don’t think there’s one revolution coming that will make a load of young people vote but I think people will start to realise that without voting, there’s very little that you can complain about. Until that happens, you’re on the outside. Until it’s taught to young people in a way that’s digestible, it’s still going to be a convoluted process. I know a lot of adults who don’t vote because they don’t understand. It’s twice as bad for young people.
It doesn’t matter if you’re a creative or not – voting is important and the election is important. I’ll be voting for Labour, just because of my bro Corbyn. He’s the least wanky! He’s the most human politician. Maybe that will make young people feel like they can vote. They might feel like they’re talking to a person rather than a set of rules or a screen.”
“The Tories believe art is a privilege that maybe can be looked at if we’ve got time at the end. It’s why they’ve all got such shit taste in music. Yet art is fundamental to life. It’s founded in the ideas of humanity, compassion, progressiveness, learning, sharing and togetherness. Art appreciates history but survives because it looks forward; it understands that the world is forever changing.
These concepts are alien to the modern right but we, as the younger generation, believe in all of them. It’s so important for young people to vote otherwise we are going to go backwards. The old fucks will be dead soon and we’ll be left with a world that they wanted, a world that has nothing to do with us. Voting only takes five minutes and it could affect everything.”
“I can’t remember how old I was but I remember asking my parents what the poll tax meant as there were ‘say no to the poll tax’ posters everywhere. I think that was maybe the first time I realised what a lot of politics meant and that a lot of it wasn’t very fair. I also have memories of my dad shouting at the TV when Margaret Thatcher was on and my mum going to anti-Thatcher protests down at Hyde Park in London.
It’s important for young people to be registered because, ultimately, the next vote affects their lives for the next five to ten years or more. The highest turnout voter demographic is the over 60s. If you’re young and want to have a say in education / social-care / NHS, then register now. Don’t let the older generation decide for you. Your teens and 20s are so important. Fight for it. When there are cuts, the arts council and creative sector suffer badly and that’s what is happening right now. Right-wing parties who concentrate on austerity don’t want us to be creative, they want us to work to the bone in careers that aren’t right for everyone. It affects art schools, grants, the music scene, clubs, small businesses…
As most people know – I’m a supporter of Scottish independence and the EU so I will be voting SNP. I don’t agree with every single one of their policies but they are the only strong opposition to the Tories right now and once we get independence I hope for a stronger Socialist Party or Green Party after we achieve that.”
Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson
“I got politically engaged late but it started when I was becoming increasingly angry and frustrated about working 40 hours a week and not being able to survive positively for a full month even if you played it low key. No social life, crap grub. As an unskilled worker I wouldn’t expect the rate of a professional but…
High uni fees, reducing housing benefit for 18-21 year olds, the void of universal credit – it is enough to think it’s worth young people voting the Tories out. Education is important to a lot of young people. Further education gave me ideas about what it was that I wanted. It’s not just a course thing. Meeting people, experiencing. So the option to study should be widely accessible.
I’m no politician. But I guess if people are constantly invited in to vote for a party that can help maintain the daily experience of polishing a turd then it becomes a no-go option. The Labour mandate is a good thing but realistically most young skint kids couldn’t give a fuck. They’ve made inroads in other ways. It’s a massive, massive overhaul that’s needed.”
“I’ve only ever really been outspoken about politics with my family, having drunken shouting matches with my dad, my sister saying we’re ruining Christmas Day. I had a massive Rage Against the Machine phase when I was a kid and I can remember learning a lot of stuff from then. I was pretty apathetic to voting until I was into my 20s if I’m honest. I suppose I felt similar to how a lot of other teenagers felt – disillusioned and uninterested.
I thought all the parties were just self-serving and didn’t really give a toss about what I was interested in. It’s only now I’m older do I realise how much politics affects the younger people. If you’re 18 now, the next five years are going to have such a massive impact around you as you start making big choices. It makes me angry seeing all these older generations ruining it for them.
I was the first person in my family to go to university and the grants I got basically enabled that to happen. It broke my heart when I saw the Tories dismantle it, knowing that other people in similar situations wouldn’t have that opportunity. It isn’t even about being able to study at university, it enabled me to leave the town I felt stuck in and find my own footing somewhere else. I’ll be voting Labour; I’ve voted Green in the past but I’m a supporter of Corbyn and I like a lot stuff in the manifesto.”
Skinny Girl Diet's Ursula and Delilah Holliday
Delilah: “Our parents used to take us on protests when we were young. We were brought up to always have compassion for other people as we are working class – my whole family supports Labour. Also going to Ken Livingstone’s festival Rock Against Racism in Finsbury Park, that’s when I started to be engaged and aware that certain communities really need resources and people that care. I wouldn’t be a musician if I had grown up in these times as I learned guitar and how to sing through a project funded by the government when I was 7. Educational resources for kids are running out and it seems that the current government doesn’t care about that.
The NHS, sexual health, mental health, health in general. Education, the arts, tuition fees. These things are slowly being taken away and before you know it there’s going to be nothing left. So it’s important people vote to try and keep these important resources there that some of us take for granted. Just because my generation thinks nothing is going to change and no-one cares doesn’t mean it isn’t going to get worse than it already is. In a dream world I would love politicians to be more diverse and of different nationalities as well as backgrounds. I honestly think that would engage more people. Perhaps if people like Instagram influencers and vloggers spoke about it maybe it would get my generation to get off their asses and vote.
I’m sick of being disappointed by my country, this election is incredibly important because the far right austerity reign needs to end. Politicians need to be living up to the reason why the concept of a government was created. Not for bad reasons like bigotry and austerity. People need compassion and to be aware that not everyone is the same. I’m voting Labour because they are the only party that seem to have compassion for the people in need of help.”
Ursula: “If you want to shoot yourself in the foot by condoning older people controlling your future, then wonder why hell’s freezing over around you and everything you need is no longer available then you can’t complain. There is no excuse of being ‘young’ if you’re old enough to vote – soon you’re going to be grown and trying to survive in a system you could have voted in.
I’m voting Labour. Not even the media’s blatant witch hunt for Jeremy Corbyn can change my views – and have you seen Theresa May eating that bag of chips? I also hope she’s scrubbed those hands of hers.”
“Engaging with politics can be as simple as talking about it with your friends, about stuff you’re seeing that you don’t like that needs to change. It doesn’t necessarily have to be about going out protesting: sometimes just galvanising on a local level with your friends can have an effect. A shameful amount of people in various countries either don’t even get the opportunity to vote, or if they do, their vote’s as good as worthless. Your vote can elect or unelect someone, so you need to be registered. They’re working for you: you’re literally hiring or firing someone. There’s real power in your vote.
From a creative point of view, there’s lots of stuff going on right now that is going to affect the creative industries in future: the effects of Brexit, arts funding and education. So it’s crucial to get people in Parliament who give a shit about that kind of thing. The Conservatives absolutely don’t care about any of that, or you, or me.
I’ll be voting Labour. I think it’s important to be honest and admit that I’m not a huge fan of Corbyn – he’s been pretty shoddy at points over the past couple of years – but it’s also important to remember that you’re primarily voting for your local MP rather than looking at the person at the top. The people who represent you are just that: they’re there to work for you and your community, and what you care about, and the type of changes you want to see both locally and nationally.
If the MP you’re looking at is already elected, do a bit of research on their voting attendance and what they’re voting for in Parliament. There’s a bunch of really good resources online (theyworkforyou.com) where there’s a bunch of easy-to-read stats on what they’ve voted for, what they’ve turned up for, how often they’ve spoken in Parliament, and so on. It’s a good way to get a quick sense if someone’s legit or not if you’re struggling.”
“I’ve been aware of politics from a young age because of conversations with my parents, and just being generally interested in what is going on in the world around me. The first time I went on a protest was during the huge anti-Iraq war march in London in 2003. I was with a bunch of friends and we made loads of banners. The turnout that day was so incredible, and you could just feel the energy in the streets.
There is so much we take for granted growing up and living in the UK. Most of us do not realise how fortunate we are, and what a privilege it is to have an opinion that counts politically, even if you think that it doesn’t make a difference. Apathy is the biggest enemy of political engagement and it seems to be affecting young people the most. Decisions from elections determine our future, and the future is most important for young people. That’s why young people need to make sure they are registered, and to make sure they vote on election day.
There needs to be more education on the importance of voting. There needs to be more role models that young people look up to, who can offer guidance on political engagement. I know a lot of pop stars and other celebrity figures who have large youth followings often do not want to convey any kind of political bias, which is fair enough. But I think you can still offer some opinions on why it is important to vote without expressing any political leanings. The right to vote applies to everyone – regardless of what party you support.
The importance of this election supersedes the fact that I’m a creative – it doesn’t really matter what anyone’s occupation is because the issues at stake are much bigger than that. I felt the same way about the Brexit referendum too. Of course, the results will have specific consequences for the creative industry, e.g. arts funding, education etc., but we all need to think beyond those things right now. I’m considering decisions made by the current government which include scrapping the Human Rights Act, cutting NHS funding, banning all disabled child refugees, cutting legal aid… these are the kinds of things we need to be thinking about, regardless of professional background.”
Register to vote here.