The 12 most-read LDV posts of 2014 (Day 8)

Throughout the 12 days of Christmas, we’re bringing you the 12 most-read posts on this site of 2014. Here’s today’s offering…

Politics is losing people, especially young people – what do we do about it? – Andy Boddington | Tue 10th September 2013

This is not just a question of one generation being more interested in politics than those that came after it. A detailed look at the data shows three effects. Firstly, people across all age groups have become less politically aligned – again in the sense of “I’m a Tory” – and less interested in politics in recent years (this is the period effect). Secondly, people born in the 1960s are more likely to have lost their political allegiances as they grew older than those born in the 1930s (the lifecycle effect). Finally, each new generation is less likely to be politically engaged than its predecessor (the generation effect).

These three effects together tell us that people of all age groups have become less interested in politics and political participation, and this trend is accelerating. We notice this most among younger people who have become much less partisan and less interested in politics than their elders over the last 20 years. They are less likely to turn out to vote or believe that people have a civic duty to vote. But it would be a mistake to think that political disengagement is phenomenon confined to younger people. Older people too are becoming less engaged.

Being less partisan challenges the bigger political parties much more than the Lib Dems, who have always benefited from floating voters. But the growing disinterest in politics challenges all parties. And unwillingness of younger people to turn out to vote threatens the basis of our democracy.

So what do we do about it?

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  • Losing young people from politics? Not in Scotland’s referendum.

    Losing young people from the Liberal Democrats? Undeniable.

    See this graphic illustrating the views of first time voters for 2015 —

    The writing is on the wall for our party.    For decades before Clegg we always drew large support from the under 25 age group.   Not any more !    Look at the facts today —

    Liberal Democrats……6%

  • Paul in Wokingham 1st Jan '15 - 6:45pm

    An article from September 2013 was one of the 12 most read in 2014?

  • Jenny Barnes 2nd Jan '15 - 9:07am

    This is a confusion. Politics is not just about belonging to political parties, delivering leaflets, and voting. That sort of politics doesn’t seem to deliver for right or left, so naturally people are less interested in it. Which is far from saying people are less interested in politics- just that they choose to express that interest in different ways. Single issue campaigns, sit-ins, “Occupy”, online referenda, twitter, facebook, and so on.

  • nvelope2003 2nd Jan '15 - 12:57pm

    John Tilley: How many of those young people will actually vote ? Polls showed many of them supporting the Liberal Democrats at the 2010 election but it appears that they did not actually do so for the most part, hence the disappointing final result. Older people are more inclined to vote apparently. Nevertheless these figures are disappointing even if expected. I cannot see things changing – can anyone say why they would ? What event is going to encourage people to vote Liberal Democrat in any future election ?

  • nvelope2003 2nd Jan ’15 – 12:57pm
    “…How many of those young people will actually vote ? ”

    I don’t know but just maybe the Scotland referendum of a couple of months ago might be a better guide than the 2010 election.

    “….What event is going to encourage people to vote Liberal Democrat in any future election ?”

    I suggest a change of leadership and direction. (forget the leader himself for a moment)
    A community based campaign in line with the principles set out in the preamble to the constitution of the Liberal Democrats.
    A campaign where we work with people to take and use power to build a society in which none are enslaved by ignorance, poverty, conformity or Coalitionism.

    On the point specifically of not being enslaved by ignorance I think we will have a lot of hard work to do. It appears that not just young voters but all voters are ignorant of the principles set out in the Preamble. Indeed some of the members who post comments here in LDV seem to think that they have joined a Thatcherite party of Free-Market fanatics. Whilst this ignorance persists Liberal Democrats will suffer because the voters simply do not want a party dominated by Free-Market extremists.

  • Ian Sanderson
    Sorry — I did not make it clear that I was drawing a distinction between when the article was written and the situation today after the Scotland Referendum.
    We have been told for a longtime that young people are not interested in politics any more.
    The Scotland Referendum showed this to be wrong.
    I have to say that I have never really believed it myself. Young people seem to me to be always more interested, open and prepared to think about politics because they have not yet fallen into the rut of always voting the same way or always refusing to vote at all.

    It improbably a fact that young people are bored to sobs by the shenanigans of the Westminster Bubble, as reported by jaded and complacent Dimble Bees. We are old bored by that.
    I expect that every time Nick Robinson’s face appears on the BBC there is a rush to make a cup of tea in ordinary households which is probably measurable by a surge of demand on the National Grid.

  • Jenny Barnes 2nd Jan '15 - 4:27pm

    I never expected 100%. But I certainly didn’t expect what I got from the. LDs over the last 4.5 years. In order to have some hope of influencing representatives they must have some integrity and honesty. “Trust me, I’m a politician”? No thank you.

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