More than 15 million people - many of them under 25 - didn’t vote in the 2015 General Election. If they had, they would have outnumbered the supporters of every UK political party.
Rize Up aims to urge those 15.7 million non voters, especially the under 25s, to have their say in the 2017 election by registering to vote before 11.59pm on 22nd May. All you need to sign up is your National Insurance number.
Joining forces with musicians
The campaign is joining forces with musicians and artists to spread the word. 5ive Beatz, who has produced for Stormzy, Skepta, Akala and more, has created a beat track as a platform for anyone to upload and talk about the importance of voting through music.
You can download the track, record your verse over the top of the beat and submit it online with the hashtag #RizeUpUK for the chance to have the full version recorded in a central London studio.
The competition to record your verse will kick off with grime artists uploading their own freestyles to inspire others to contribute. Some will also be releasing exclusive music for the campaign.
Rize Up is being supported by:
Rize Up is not about telling people which party they should vote for. It is about letting people know that if they are not registered by 22nd May, they will be unable to have their say.
It’s about reminding people which issues are at stake – so they can make their own decisions about which party best represents their own views and give everyone the tools they need to register, including homeless people.
This election is a one-off
The campaign’s co-founders, photographer and filmmaker Josh Cole and Jane Powell, say this election is unique. It’s not just about voting in a government who will make decisions and tinker with things for the few years until the next election.
The next government will negotiate the UK’s exit from the EU. They will have to shape, decide and negotiate every law we have. They will have to cut a deal with our current Euro partners which will affect how we work, travel and trade for the rest of our lives.
They will also need to work out new trade, travel and work deals with many non-EU countries, once we are no longer part of EU travel and passport arrangements. These deals won’t just last for the next five years – they will last forever.
This next government matters in a way that no other has mattered since the war years. Voting is one way to make opinions heard.
Brexit swung by older voters
Despite the importance of the upcoming election, a recent poll showed only 14% of under 25s said they would definitely vote on June 8th, compared with 79% of the over 65s.
The number of young people voting has declined in the last 20 years. Only 43% of 18-25 year olds voted in the last election compared to 77% of over 55 year olds. Referendum figures show too that the Brexit decision was swung by older people who went out to vote in larger numbers.
So older people are more likely to turn out to vote, while younger voters are staying away in ever larger numbers. Yet many policies affect the young directly – and affect them for longer, as they will outlive the older voters.
Political parties shape their manifesto policies to attract the most voters. If only the older age groups are voting – then the parties will target the policies and promises towards the old to get their votes.
Young people targeted for cuts
If huge sections of society don’t vote, then they will be less important to any party trying to win votes. There is a concern that young people have been let down, or targeted for cuts, by political policies over recent years. Young people have been amongst the hardest hit since the financial crash of 2008. They have experienced:
Whilst many policies have disadvantaged young people, at the same time it has been made harder and more confusing for them to register to vote.
The registration process changed in 2015 so that instead of a ‘head of household’ filling in the document for everyone in the house, individuals now have the responsibility to ensure they are registered.
Young people move house more and are not likely to re-register themselves at every move. The election date falls during the main exam period for university exams (mid May to mid June), GCSE exams (15th May - 30th June) and further education college course assessment weeks ( all of May and start of June).
The election campaign also falls during Ramadan, the Islamic month-long fasting period, which this year runs from 27th May - 24th June. The timing of the election is raising concerns that fewer muslims will get a chance to vote.
Youth voice ignored
With all parties designing policies to suit those typically most likely to vote, the youth voice is often ignored. Only 53 per cent of those within the lowest income bracket voted last time around, compared with 75% of those in the highest, said Rize Up’s Josh Cole.
“I felt like there was a need for a campaign that gives a platform for the forgotten generation to have their say. To start a conversation rather than being patronising or telling people what to do.”
His campaign co-founder Jane Powell said there are millions of voters out there whose voices will potentially be lost – at a time of huge political, economic and social change. “We want to ensure that young people and those at the bottom of society feel their vote can affect their lives and the lives of those around them.
“Rize Up is working to unite partners across the music industry, social media and the community to give these people a voice and to prove that every vote was created equal. We want the next generation of voters to feel empowered instead of apathetic, and an election that never planned for them to turn up is a great chance to shake things up.”
To join the conversation on social media, tweet using #RizeUpUK, and to find out more head here.