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Last year while I was visiting the United Kingdom they turned on the Brexit vote for my entertainment, and this year Theresa May provided a snap election while I was there, writes Ian Munro.
Both had interesting and unexpected outcomes.
In a column written on my return after the first, I lamented how the young voters realised too late that they had missed the Remain bus by not voting.
This year I can write that, in the interim, many seem to have woken up to that fact. They have realised that if they want to take control of their future, then they have to participate in the electoral process. In doing so, ironically, they saved the jobs of many Labour MPs, who for the past year or so had been trying to deprive Jeremy Corbyn of his.
As in the United States, I sensed a movement among the young away from the neo-liberal policies of the past decades towards a more inclusive and redistributive approach to governing. The young seem to implicitly understand and sense the genuine and authentic. From an early age, they become very good at sensing a lack of those attributes. And the world today is awash with key political leaders who lack them.
As has become very clear in the past 12 months, we’ve moved into a post-fact era, where world and domestic leaders have scant respect for the truth or for those who didn’t vote for them. Our hope is the young won’t buy into this, and I think we might be seeing that.
We have our own election in a few months and, if nothing else and above all else, we need to make sure our youngsters understand that the future belongs to those who participate. Whether they’ve just qualified to vote, missed their first vote or will need to wait another three years before getting the opportunity, they need to enrol and become involved. And this is regardless of how they might vote.
The world they will face and eventually govern will be so different from what we know now. While we might feel that the pace of change in the past few decades has been exceptionally fast, it will get even faster.
Until 1900, average human knowledge doubled approximately every 100 years. By the end of World War 2, knowledge was doubling every 25 years, a decade ago every two years and today every 13 months. And the fourth revolution, the Industrial Revolution being the third, isn’t even fully under way yet.
Events are moving too fast for our young voters to have the luxury of drifting into the electoral process over an election or three. The future really does belong to those who turn out to vote.