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#InCrowd: Corbyn pleads for youth vote in EU referendum


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Labour's leadership election was a triumph of grass-roots democracy and public participation, politicising hundreds of thousands of new activists and drawing in supporters of all backgrounds from across the country. Most significantly, in the last year Labour's youth membership has more than trebled, reaching a fresh generation of activists hitherto alienated from democracy.

Jeremy Corbyn is hoping that the EU referendum will continue to engage young voters and deepen their participation in democracy. Referring to the surge in young voters at a recent campaign outing, he said: “We have more Labour Party members under 27 than UKIP or the Lib Dems have in total membership.”

To this end Corbyn launched a mass youth registration drive in Liverpool as part of the Labour IN campaign on Friday, a campaign which has since gone viral.

It has never been more important for young people to get involved and stand up for their principles. Imploring them to have their say, create change and lay the foundations for a future in or out of Europe, Corbyn noted that “the people who will be most affected if Britain leaves the EU will not be my generation, but your generation.” 

Corbyn's plea to disenfranchised youth to register to vote was echoed by celebrities such as Ricky Gervais, Lily Cole, Eddie Izzard and Owen Jones; the celebritities tweeted about the need to register and millions of people were reached within hours. Other tweets in support of Corbyn's vision are trending under #InCrowd.

There has never been a more important time for voter registration drives. Of the 7.4million 16-24 year olds who live in the UK, only half are registered to vote, and of those registered 43% turned out in 2015. This equates to only roughly a quarter of young people being represented at the last election. Worse still, 1.4 million have fallen off the electoral register since changes to voter registrations, and some 40% of 16 and 17 year olds who would soon have been eligible have disappeared from the electoral register altogether. 

Youth disenchantment with the political process is a massive problem in democracies and the consequence is that young people are under-represented in decision making. Austerity policies are hitting us the hardest, and it is unfair that our needs are being put on the back-burner by politicians. To have our say, we must engage in numbers and make sure our preferences are heard. 

It is still possible to register to vote in the EU referendum and there is still time to encourage friends and family to have their say. The only way we can change things is by getting involved. This is something even Corbyn's staunchest critics must be able to agree on.

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