This year’s election isn’t a foregone conclusion, it’s an opportunity for change. That’s the message of Rize Up, a new campaign urging under 25s to go out and vote. In the lead up to May 22’s registration cut-off point and the general election on June 8, Rize Up will be everywhere around the UK, driving home the importance of having a say in this year’s crucial vote.
There’s a sense that the tide is turning. 100,000 under-25s registered to vote within three days of the election being announced. A recent Guardian survey found nine out of 10 students had registered. But there’s still more work to be done. With the registration cut-off point approaching, there’s still time to put a spanner in the works and change the country. We spoke to the campaign’s organiser and some of the acts joining Rize Up’s cause, urging young people to get out and vote.
Professor Green: “It’s strength in numbers”
Professor Green, himself a first time voter, wants the UK to have its say.
This election feels like a chance to get out and do something…
“It would be amazing. Growing up, politics was just a load of mumbo jumbo. I couldn’t understand what they were saying. I had a lot to contend with outside my doorstep. They’re probably the hardest group to engage. I don’t think they feel like politics relates to them, and it has an impact on their lives.”
Do you think some people are convinced they can’t make a difference?
“People are so disengaged and they feel they can’t make a difference. Whereas actually, it’s strength in numbers.”
If anyone is reading this thinking, ‘I might not bother voting,’ what would you say?
“Well if it doesn’t matter either way, then why not just bloody do it? If you feel it’s unimportant, why not just do it for the sake of it? If you want to spoil your ballot, then spoil your ballot. Whatever people think of a man they probably have no idea about, there’s definitely a lesser of two evils here. If you have a low opinion of politicians, it shouldn’t matter.”
Josh Cole, Rize Up founder: “There’s something in the air”
Josh Cole, founder of Rize Up, believes this generation could change politics forever.
What compelled you to set up Rize Up?
“I think a lot of young people are actually very smart, and they understand very well why they don’t want to vote, and it’s a very conscious decision. I think it’s really trying to tap into that anti-establishment energy and channel it into somewhere they can actually use their opinion and use their voice.”
So does this feel like an election where big change can happen?
“I think there’s something in the air. People are starting to become more politically aware, and I don’t think we have been for a long time. We’ve become so disillusioned with the establishment and politics in general that I just don’t think we felt like we could make a difference. But that’s starting to change.”
What are Rize Up doing in the lead-up to the election?
“We’re just going to be promoting, getting the word out there to anyone who listens. There’s a lot of different people who’ve approached us who are organizing their own Rize Up parties, and we like to encourage that. There’s going to be an awful lot happening in the next few weeks.”
Maverick Sabre: “One voice can be so important”
London-based rapper Maverick Sabre was turned on to Rize Up by his friends in Rudimental – he’s urging the youth to stand up and be counted.
Why is it that young people can feel disengaged by politics?
“It’s because it can seem like a world that we have no power over, no voice. We’ve become disconnected because we don’t see anyone as standing for us anymore. And even those who stand for the working people can see washed over, in a sense. We seem to only view the rise of politics as something that only affects us in a negative way. Even from a young age, in schools, politics is taught as an older generation’s problem – which is ridiculous. It’s ingrained in us to be disillusioned.”
What would you say to those still on the fence about registering?
“Think about when you grow older, think about your kids, think about the country you want them to live in. One voice can be so important. Source your own news, don’t take any one bit of information as truth, and think about your future. What voice would you want to have?”