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Published on September 7th, 2014 | by Sadia Aden
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The Party Starts Now!

September brings the start of many things; the official beginning of autumn, the start of the academic year and the beginning of the annual political party conferences.

Following the end of summer recess, and the return of MPs to parliament earlier on Monday, this year will mark the last series of conferences before the general elections in May. These conferences are crucial as they serve as an important opportunity for political party leaders to gain some press coverage on policy announcements and influence voters.

So, the question arises, what can the party leaders say that will encourage young people to turn up and vote for them?

Voter turnout in the UK elections among young people aged between 18 to 24 is notably the lowest in comparison to any other age group. Many question if young people feel an increasing disconnection from the political system as turnout has been on a decline year after year.

The disconnection may leave a gap between young voters and the political system, but more than anything, it creates an opportunity for any party to speak to the UK’s youth. There are a number issues through which parties may be able to gain more voters than their competitors in this election, which is expected to be very close.

Issues like the economy and youth unemployment are the main frontiers of youth concern that the Conservatives, Labour and the Liberal Democrats need to address in order to secure confidence in young voters.

Furthermore, young people in any generation have always been the most liberal and socially conscious. It comes as no no surprise that policies concerning the future of the NHS, education and social welfare programs also hold a large influence on youth votes.

The privatisation and spending cuts to these sectors have been very poorly received by a majority of the youth and as a result may cause the Tories and Lib Dems to face some setbacks. Particularly with the rise of university tuition fees under the Coalition years, both parties may find it difficult to recover.

During these conferences, each party will set out their agenda for the elections, explaining where their party stands on certain issues, what their plans are, and what they hope to achieve.

The round of conferences begins with the Labour party who will be in Manchester from the 21st to the 24th of September. Followingly, the Conservative party will be in Birmingham from the 28th to the 1st of October, and the Liberal Democratic party will be in Glasgow from the 4th to the 8th October.

UKIP will be holding their conference on the 26th and 27th of September in Doncaster, marking the first time that UKIP holds a credible stand in the general elections following their recent rise during the European elections. They also will be announcing their policies which may reveal a move from UKIP to expand to newer campaign issues, ending their reputation as a one-trick pony fixed on immigration and paving their way to a legitimate position next year.

In the long run, these party conferences will be the first step towards next year’s general elections with each party carefully preparing for the 7 months ahead. With this in mind, political leaders should really recognise the power of the youth vote and do more to engage with young voters.

It is often said that young people don’t really trust politicians, and that it is hard to really believe politicians will represent the youth vote. All MP’s should do more to address these concerns, reach out to young voters, and stress their plans to keep their promises.

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About the Author

A second year International Politics student studying at Brunel University in London with an ambition to travel and a vice for sweets, alongside an interest for global affairs - past and present.

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