Young voters are set to play a pivotal role in the upcoming EU referendum. Considered the key to victory by many on the ‘Remain’ side, efforts to woo them have been stepped up a notch in recent months. One politician considered crucial to this strategy is Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who thus far has remained relatively quiet on the issue. This silence has registered with voters with a recent Opinium Observer showing only 47% of those polled knew Jeremy Corbyn supported remaining in the EU.
The same poll showed a lead for Remain over Leave in the age group of 18-34 of 53% – 29%, but crucially that only 52% would be certain to vote. This is where Jeremy Corbyn comes in. In the Labour leadership election Corbyn did very well with younger voters winning 64% of the under 25 vote and 67% of the 25-39 year old age group. Added to this according to a GQQR poll for the Fabian Society, Corbyn is the most trusted figure within the Labour Party in this debate with a net approval of +17. In getting young Labour voters in favour of staying in the EU to the polls, these numbers highlight there is no-one better than Corbyn, so why is he not a more passionate advocate?
Firstly confusion remains over whether Corbyn actually wants Britain to stay in the EU. His endorsement and comments have been lukewarm and prior to running for leader held some Eurosceptic views. In 1993 he spoke out against the Maastricht Treaty and in 2008 voted against the Lisbon Treaty. He once also said that the EU had ‘always suffered a serious democratic deficit’. These are not the words or the stance of an ‘Inner’ and suggest the only motive for his stance is political survival and not ideological support.
Referendums are often won by the side who are the most effective in getting their supporters to the polls. For ‘Remain’ to be certain of victory they need young voters to turn up on polling day. For young, leftish voters, there is no figure they respect more than Corbyn. This carries consequences and means whatever role Corbyn decides to play in the next few months, he is likely to be of great importance.
Article by Mike Hough
Photograph – The Daily Mirror