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Young People Care About Political Issues

Hannah Bowden

22 May, 2024


Following the recent publication of The Big Ambition report and increasing conversations about the impending General Election, Hannah explores some of the research around young people and politics. What do young people care about politically? Who are they likely to vote for? How can we ensure their voices are listened to?



Young people are political. They care about big issues like safety, climate change, mental health, social justice, education, and more. In The Big Ambition report (watch out for more from the Centre for Research on this), published by the Children’s Commissioner in March 2024, it is noted that ‘[c]hildren understand the world, they care about it, and they want to have their voices listened to on how to tackle key issues facing children across England’. So, with the return of Donald Trump in America and the looming-but-yet-to-be-decided general election in the UK, we thought it would be helpful to think a bit more about young people and their political views/engagement.

“The government should listen to children’s ideas more and children shouldn’t have to pass their idea to an adult to make it happen. Children should be able to change the world too” (Girl, 11, The Big Ambition).


Voting Intention: Labour is the leading party amongst the 18-24-year-old age group

  • 65% of 18–24-year-olds said they intend to vote Labour in the next general election (compared with 5% Conservative
  • 40% said they would vote Labour tomorrow if there were a general election (compared with 4% Conservative)

YouGov Polling of Voter Intention. February 2024 (updated monthly)

Young people are swaying to the right globally, but this is not mirrored in the UK

  • Almost 40% of young people in their 20s backed Donald Trump in 2020 and the same have shared they will do so again in November1
  • >1/3 of young adults voted for the right in the most recent elections in France, Germany, and Spain
  • Only 1 in 10 under 40s will vote Conservative at the next election in the UK

Financial Times Why Are Young People Deserting Conservatism in Britain but Nowhere Else? 8th February 2024.

Children and young people are disillusioned by the political system and the way it represents them

  • 1 in 10 8-17-year-olds believe that Politicians ‘always’ or ‘often’ focus on the needs of young people when making decisions
  • 88% of young people believe it is important to have a say in the decisions politicians make about public life
  • Young people care most about safety and mental health

Polling by Opinium commissioned by a coalition of children’s charities. February 2024.

Young people care about the world and want their voice listened to when tackling key issues relating to them

  • Only 22% agreed that people who run the country listened to what they had to say (most negatively answered question across the whole survey)
  • Older young people were less likely to agree with the statement
  • 52% agreed with the statement ‘You feel empowered to change issues you care about’

The Big Ambition. The Children’s Commissioner March 2024 Survey of 367,000 children/young people

Young people in Britain are moving left

  • In the UK, we are seeing an unprecedented trend in which young people are deserting Conservatism; a completely opposite, ‘extreme’ trend to other countries, as demonstrated

Financial Times Why Are Young People Deserting Conservatism in Britain but Nowhere Else? 8th February 2024.

The hope of upward social mobility has been broken down

  • It is argued that the single most important factor for the ‘wipe out’ of the Conservative party in the UK has been the breakdown of upward social mobility in the UK2.
  • Young people are much less likely than the older generations to believe they have control over their success3
  • One reason this belief has grown is a result of the collapse of young adult homeownership in the UK

Generation Games Ben Ansell. Substack. 2nd January 2023


What we know is that both children and young people want their voices to be heard rather than speaking into an echo chamber. They want their opinions on things that matter to be taken seriously. How we amplify the voices of young people feels more important than ever following the recent announcement from the British Youth Council who will be permanently closing, due to financial issues resulting in insolvency, after

more than 75 years of championing the voices of young people. This marks a devastating change for the youth work sector and will leave a huge void.

Despite this void, there is also the exciting launch of the Our Generation. Our Vote. programme. A ‘political literacy education programme culminating in a mass-scale election specifically for young people under 18’, this free project gives an opportunity to support children and young people to have their say and share their views on the issues they care about. It will give young people the chance to cast a vote for parliamentary candidates in their local area, supported by free resources, sessions, workshops, youth-friendly manifestos and more. If you’re a youth worker and are interested in enabling your group to partake in this, you can contact the team at team@ourgenerationourvote.org.uk or attend the next information webinar on 13.6.24 at 4pm.

Whilst as individual youth workers, we cannot step into the shoes of such a huge organisation, we can do our part to engage young people in conversations around politics and political issues that matter to them. To do so, why don’t you pose some of the statements in the table above and see what they think. Do they agree with the statements? Does the research resonate with their own experiences? If not, why?

You might also like to explore some of these resources:

Our Generation. Our Vote: https://www.democracyclassroom... - a ‘political literacy education programme culminating in a mass-scale election specifically for young people under 18’ [see above].

Democracy Classroom - https://www.democracyclassroom... – a ‘shared hub of resources, training opportunities and events, created by a partnership of non-partisan organisations working on democracy, education and youth’.

Christians in Politics – https://www.christiansinpoliti... - who ‘aim to inspire and equip young Christians to engage in politics in the most fruitful and compelling way possible’ (they also have a Network on Facebook).

1 Findings from Catalist ‘What Happened in 2020’ https://catalist.us/wh-nationa...
2 https://www.ft.com/content/165...
3 https://benansell.substack.com...

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