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The views of first time voters

08 June 2017

Barnsley Students.jpg Today is election day. Up and down the country people will be going to polling stations and taking part in their democratic right to vote. At the Association of Colleges, we have been encouraging students in colleges to register to vote so they can have their say in today. I had the pleasure of meeting four first time voters at Barnsley College, and was interested in what they have thought of the campaign. Brandon Chilton, Josh Barker, Jordan Ralphs and Jake Cleary are all first time voters. As we sit in the restaurant at Barnsley College, we discuss what they have thought of the campaign so far. What’s clear from them is that Jeremy Corbyn seems to have got his message through. “I like what I hear from Corbyn – on university, taxes and so on. He might be a stronger leader than Theresa May”, said Josh. Jordan agreed: “Corbyn’s got more young people in mind. He’ll be better for more young people in the country than Theresa May.” Jake said: “He sees both sides of what this country has to offer – north and south. It’s getting a big divide now and I feel the Conservatives, especially Theresa May, don’t see that. I feel Corbyn’s manifesto and what the Labour Government want to bring to the country will benefit not just Barnsley, but Britain as a whole.” So what’s the message to the next Government? Brandon says it’s to recognise how important education is: “We should be investing more into it, not taking away, because that’s just bad for everyone in the long run. These people are going to be the next in charge of running of the country. We’ve got to invest in it.” Jake agrees: “I feel education is a privilege that we have and democracy as well. We’ve got to use it the full potential and spend a lot of time focusing on things we can improve. The people leaving school and going into college and university – they’re the future of this country and I feel is it a priority.” What was interesting in our chat is that no-one mentioned Brexit. This wasn’t an issue for any of them. Jordan said: “We can’t really judge Brexit, as it’s not happened yet.” When asked what they thought about the prospect of voting, Jake said: “I’m looking forward to going out and voting. It’s something new, it’ll be the first time to the polling station, so it’ll be intriguing. Every vote counts. It’s democracy, it’s what people have fought for.” I couldn’t have put it better myself. Andrea Jones is the Head of Communications at the Association of Colleges