13 British Teenagers Explain How They Would Really Vote If They Could

These under-18s won’t get a say in the upcoming U.K. election, but they’ve got passionate views.

June 07, 2017

On June 8, Britain will go to the polls in a snap general election. Theresa May, the current Prime Minister, has held the position since her predecessor David Cameron resigned in 2016, following the June vote for Brexit. May’s opposition is Jeremy Corbyn: leader of the Labour Party, extremely meme-able guy, and a kind of British Bernie Sanders. He’s an unlikely challenger, who — when the election was called in April — looked set to lose by a landslide. As the campaign has kicked into action, though, support for Corbyn has begun to rise (not least among the grime community).

While this election campaign (and the prospect of having to go to the polls yet again) has mostly been a drag, one positive aspect has been the increase in young people engaging with political issues and registering to vote. As election day looms, The FADER chatted with a group of 12-17 year olds about their views on the issues at stake. They may not get to vote on Thursday, but they’ll undoubtedly feel the effects of the decision made.

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Josie, 17, Hertfordshire

"If I could vote, I would definitely vote Labour. I’m a Labour Party member and I’ve supported them for as long as I’ve been interested in politics. It’s a party based on achieving social justice for all people and advocating for equality, which is something I’m very passionate about. As someone planning to start university in the next few years I like their plan to cut tuition fees and nationalize the railways, and I think they are the only party to be trusted when it comes to the NHS. I am not a massive Jeremy Corbyn supporter and I didn’t vote for him to be leader, but now, I see him as the absolute best option for Prime Minister.

"It would be an understatement to say I’m not Theresa May’s biggest fan. People do not need austerity, and big corporations do not need tax breaks. The Conservatives have failed to achieve a decent level of economic growth, increased government debt, slashed public services and broken countless promises. Under the current government, things are spiraling out of control and I think this snap election is only further proof of that."

Humzah, 14, east London

"I would vote for Jeremy Corbyn. I know a lot of people have been saying that Theresa May will win anyway, but I feel like Jeremy Corbyn’s more relaxed, he’s got a plan ahead of him, he knows what he’s doing. Theresa May tries to be good friends with Donald Trump...When Trump became president, she went straight to America to shake his hand. We made a mistake about Brexit, we should have voted [Remain]...Because of this extreme decision, we have to go to extreme people like Donald Trump. I feel like she’s running out of ideas. She doesn’t know what she’s doing."

13 British Teenagers Explain How They Would Really Vote If They Could Ava, 13   Courtesy Ava
“Theresa May says something, then realizes that people don’t agree with her, then she says something else. It’s like, What is she trying to say? I don’t think that’s something we can really trust.” —Ava, 13
Rosamund, 17, London

"I'd vote Labour. They are, in my opinion, our best hope for getting the Tories out and ending their violent, sexist, racist, classist cuts. Domestic violence services have suffered under the Tories as we've never seen before. Our current government violently enforces borders, and keeps people in detention centers where they face abuse before often being illegally deported. [Tories] prey on those that they perceive to be powerless. Their cuts are elitist, their party does not care about people like me and my peers, they only care about themselves."

Aniq, 14, east London

"I would vote for Labour, as post-World War II, they [established] the NHS, which makes our healthcare today free. So I think they deserve to be the party that look after the U.K. Also, I think that Labour might be able to fix everything wrong with the country. After Brexit, there’s been a lot of hate around — people around the country are getting attacked and being victims of xenophobia. I think that people that come from Syria are being harassed for coming from a country which ISIS are attacking and bombing."

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Joanna, 13, Sheffield

"I’d vote for the Green Party, but I’m not too sure, because my area is stuck between Labour and Tory. So I’d want to do whatever I could to keep Tories out. But the Greens are my party, and I support them. I do canvassing and leafleting. I’m part of the Youth Council in Sheffield. Because I can’t vote, I do everything that I can to get involved. [The Green Party] is really strong. They’re focused on the environment. I’m vegan myself, so that’s what makes me mainly really interested in it...Because it’s a minority party, the media’s very biased. [I like] the fact that the Greens are very different from all of the other parties.

"[Theresa May is] very scary. The main thing that I can’t stand about her is that she didn’t turn up to the vote on whether transgender people are able to [legally] change their gender. She voted against equal age of consent, she’s voted against LGBTQ rights a lot. And her approach to Brexit — she’s still keeping us in the dark on what she’s actually going to do. [Brexit is] probably gonna be her main focus if she does get in, whereas there’s a lot bigger issues...like the NHS, and environmental laws."

13 British Teenagers Explain How They Would Really Vote If They Could Josie, 17   Courtesy Josie
"The Conservatives have failed to achieve a decent level of economic growth, increased government debt, slashed public services and broken countless promises." —Josie, 17
Miriam, 13, east London

"Labour have really good ideas. They [would] help the universities, the NHS. Whereas the Conservatives, they’re making primary school kids pay for their lunch. I have quite a big family personally, so after a month, my family would be broke. Theresa May needs to up her game. I think that if [she] stays, she’s going to end up destroying our country. It’s going to affect not only people older than us, but it will definitely affect us. Whatever they make wrong, we’ll have to try and fix it."

Aswin, 15, east London

"I would probably vote for Labour. I like their policies more than the Conservatives, for example the tax [increase for those earning over £80,000]. For every £1 you gain, 50p of that goes back to helping other people. I think that’s a big thing, as poor people don’t really have that much to work with. For example, their background could be really bad. But Conservatives think that it’s just their fault, that they’re not working hard."

Ava, 13, east London

"The things that Labour are trying to do are going to have a huge effect, a positive one. With Theresa May, she says something, then realizes that people don’t agree with her, then she says something else. It’s like, What is she trying to say? What is happening? I don’t think that’s something we can really trust."

Iona, 17, near Glasgow

"I’d probably vote Labour. I don't like the SNP [Scottish National Party] because I think nationalism is just a tool to split people, and we do not need more segregation. I do however want Scottish independence since we were lied to about continuing to be in the European Union three years ago. And I'm not a freaking Tory, I actually care about people that aren't privileged. I like the way that Labour are heading with Corbyn.

"[The current government] is a shambles. We have a PM we didn't choose and a government that is not representative of our country. If disabled and mentally or physically ill people aren't given they help they need they will suffer and die. If people in poverty can't reach benefits and food banks they could starve. If black people are treated by racist police or others, they could die. If LGBTQ people are not recognized as valid, that damages their sense of self and can lead to self harm or suicide. That's the truth. So yeah, being ignorant of prejudice is a matter of life or death. Old white men deciding the fate of our country's future is sad and too real."

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13 British Teenagers Explain How They Would Really Vote If They Could Rummana, 13   Courtesy Rummana
“We should be able to vote for what we want in the future.” —Rummana, 13
Rummana, 13, east London

"I would vote for Labour, because they’ve been speaking about how they would reduce the amount of tuition fees, and that’s very helpful because a lot of people who go to university don’t have enough money to pay for their fees. We should be able to vote for what we want in the future. The people that are voting for us, people that are older than us, their generation is different to ours, so their opinions are different from ours."

Amina, 17, south London

"I'm really not sure how I would vote — definitely not Conservative, just Lib Dems or Labour, since they seem to be much more sympathetic to students and young people. I strongly dislike the current government, especially since all their policies seem to be directed at the most vulnerable within society. For example, the benefit cuts, which affect those in poverty, and the proposed plans to end free school meals."

Marika, 13, east London

"I don’t think I would vote for the Conservatives. I think Labour has stronger arguments. I’m not saying I agree with them completely — I don’t really agree with them wanting to Brexit. I know it’s going to happen anyway, but Brexit is just really annoying. People are voting and they’re not taking into consideration our generation, how it’s going to affect us. They’re just thinking, “We want to be independent.” But it’s not going to benefit us in any way, there’s so many complications."

Esme, 16, London

"I would vote for the Labour party. Jeremy Corbyn has consistently been on the right side of history with voting rights in terms of gay rights and women's rights. The main issue that would be most likely to influence me would be the environment. Can't have politics without a planet to hold them on!

"I think not many young people are engaged in politics as should be, but I think that could easily be rectified. If we had someone in power who recognized the abilities and voices of this generation, we would feel more motivated to stand up for our rights, and discuss issues affecting our future."

13 British Teenagers Explain How They Would Really Vote If They Could