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Memes, TikTok, and Politics: How UK’s Youth Engage with the 2024 General Election Despite Being Voteless

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2024 General Election: 'Mystic Sunak' and Starmer's Jabs: Young People's Engagement Explored

Even though they can't cast ballots in the upcoming general election, young individuals have shared with Sky's Bench Across Britain series that they are keeping up with the most recent developments and humorous memes on TikTok.

Residential editor @JasonFarrellSky

Sunday, June 9, 2024, 4:

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Rishi Sunak wore a purple wizard costume, while Sir Keir Starmer threw weak punches at a gym.

These photos are what adolescents are posting on TikTok at school, all distributed by political party groups aiming to engage youth.

In the latest installment of our Bench Across Britain series, we transported our symbolic parliamentary bench to Cardinal Newman Catholic School in Luton, Bedfordshire. Here, we learned that the youth are keenly tracking the election through digital platforms.

"Both the Conservative Party and Labour are offering me something," states Hope Campbell, a 17-year-old in Year 12.

She and her classmates swiftly display an edited photo of the prime minister garbed as a sorcerer, featuring the text "you've been cursed by the Auramancer (-999999 aura if you don't send this)", referencing a popular meme among teens about "aura".

Hope clarifies, "There's this running gag about aura where you earn positive points for good deeds, and you lose points for actions that are either embarrassing or negative."

"This seems to be a campaign tactic from the Labour Party suggesting that choosing the Conservative Party would result in a loss of almost a million points."

Douglas Ross will step down as the head of the Scottish Conservatives following the upcoming general election.

Conservative Party leader Richard Holden evades inquiries regarding his appointment to a secure constituency.

Supporter of Sunak, Stridge, inadvertently complicates matters while addressing inquiries regarding the Prime Minister's career prospects.

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Hope and her companion, 17-year-old Eve Kelly, believe that the Labour Party is leading the battle on TikTok, suggesting that their material must be crafted by someone from Generation Z.

However, the Conservatives are resisting. They released a TikTok video depicting Sir Keir struggling to effectively hit a punchbag.

"Clearly, he's not the top fighter," Hope remarks. "And it seems like the punching bag may have had the upper hand in this match."

"There's a certain irony in the fact that it's the parliament, an institution you'd expect to be quite solemn, that is turning this whole thing into somewhat of a farce."

Explore further: Reform UK could be leading in the inaugural TikTok-driven election

Under current laws, teenagers are ineligible to vote until they reach the age of 18. However, the Labour Party is advocating for lowering the voting age to 16. This election features several policies specifically targeting this age group, including a ban on smoking, a requirement for compulsory mathematics education, and a proposal from Sunak to introduce mandatory national service, either in the community or the military, for those turning 18.

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Many students are ambivalent about their ability to vote, pointing to their own perceived "immaturity" or insufficient understanding of the political parties.

Seventeen-year-old student Francis Chin explains, "Our parents and families still heavily influence us, so there's a significant amount of pressure from them to vote in a particular direction."

However, the young people are acutely conscious that numerous policies at stake in this election affect their lives.

Seventeen-year-old student Hilary Matiwa believes young people should be allowed to vote. "There are important issues being discussed that directly impact our generation," she says, "such as mandatory national service and requirements for maths and English. Additionally, the topic of university tuition fees is also crucial."

"As we age, expenses continue to rise. Exiting university, we find the challenge of affording housing intensifies due to the cost-of-living crisis. Therefore, I believe it's essential that we have a say in this matter."

Opinions vary on the topic of mandatory national service. Many believe that voluntarily assisting within the community is beneficial, but they argue that it should not be mandated.

However, 17-year-old student David Mukendi supports the idea, stating, "I believe the proposal is beneficial as it shows that Rishi Sunak isn't really aiming to ruin our futures and goals by proposing national service for us."

"It's important to grasp the underlying principles of serving in the national forces. This entails mastering discipline and the ability to make sacrifices, qualities which seem to be less prevalent among the younger generation."

The pupils at Luton also have their perspectives on mandatory mathematics and the prohibition on smoking, with the majority appearing to oppose these measures, arguing that individuals should have the option to choose.

They also view the election as unfairly biased against the youth, as they lack a voice in the process.

Discussions are ongoing about the shortage of facilities for young people, the inadequacy in assisting vulnerable children to escape gang life, and the challenges in addressing knife violence.

Hilary mentions, "I think that the Conservatives tend to concentrate more on the older population, particularly aspects like pensions."

"It seems to me that the focus isn't on the youth anymore. Instead, there's more attention given to adults and seniors these days."

Explore further: Anticipated Labour commitment regarding PalestineWhat are the public's opinions on Sunak's early departure from D-Day?Which political party holds the largest following?

Stay informed on the most recent developments in the UK and internationally by tuning into Sky News.

David remarks, "We are the future of this nation. Therefore, I believe it's essential to find a balance. It appears there is a disregard for the younger generation."

"We are the ones who will bear the brunt of the outcomes resulting from the decisions these politicians are about to make."

While they lack voting rights, the students at Cardinal Newman Catholic School appeared to be some of the most politically knowledgeable individuals to occupy our parliamentary seats.

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People are actively participating and discussing the debate on social platforms, yet ultimately, it is our responsibility to decide their fate.

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