Need to Know | 7th November 2014

What do "young people" think about politics?

With six months to go until election day, how do “young people” feel about […]

Photo: Getty


With six months to go until election day, how do “young people” feel about politics?

A recent Survation poll offered some answers, adding to other surveys by Ipsos MORI and YouGov. The poll, for Sky News, looked into 16-24 year olds relationship with, and opinions of, the political system.

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Overall voting intention shows a hefty 50 per cent in favour of Labour, with the Tories on just 18 per cent – little higher than Ukip, who Survation surprisingly put on 16 per cent.

The Greens only polled 8 per cent, placing them little higher than the Lib Dems on 6 per cent, but almost all other polls show the Greens above Ukip, albeit among a slightly different age group: 18-24 year olds.

Moving away from the parties, just 8 per cent of young people describe themselves as “fully engaged” in the political process, but a further 47 per cent think they are somewhat engaged, which dispels the common assertion that young people do not care about politics. Moreover, 40 per cent would like to be more engaged than they currently are.

40 per cent of 16-24 year olds would like to be more engaged than they currently are.

14 per cent said that there was nothing they could do to influence politics. But how can you make a difference? 22 per cent saying that voting was the most effective way. Others disagreed. 15 per cent thought campaigning on social media more effective, with another 9 per cent preferring petitions. 44 per cent say they have tried to make their concerns and beliefs heard but do not feel listened to.

59 per cent of the 16-24 year olds had either no, or not very much, confidence that politicians would address the issues that matter to them most, which were the NHS (65 per cent), education (50 per cent) and unemployment (42 per cent).

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47 per cent said that no leader fits their criteria of “a party leader”. Honesty was identified as the most important quality, chosen by 72 per cent, followed by “being in touch with ordinary people” at 57 per cent.

Despite trailing on the latter and barely leading on the former, Cameron was the most frequently selected leader at 22 per cent, with Miliband on 16 per cent.

The NHS is the most trusted institution to address their needs, on 78 per cent, followed by the police at 66 per cent and social services at 54 per cent.

As for the government, it was trusted by just (or as many as?) 31 per cent. The mainstream media was only trusted by 18 per cent.

80 per cent do not feel that the media portrays them accurately, and they are more than twice as likely to say that social media reflects their views and concerns better than traditional media.