The Final Countdown – Convincing the unconvinced

It’s the final countdown. With less than a week until the election, the UK’s political parties are sure to pull out all the stops this week.

Whether it’s an energetic ‘pumped-up’ Cameron trying to shake off rumours he doesn’t really care, or a last-minute housing policy by Labour – so last-minute, it wasn’t in their manifesto – this week is the week to convince the unconvinced.

With a record-breaking amount of people registered to vote (469,000 registered on the closing day alone) and the polls neck and neck between Labour and the Conservatives, what are the main political parties going to pull out of the bag to convince the undecided voters? And with polls suggesting three million young voters are still undecided, what are the parties going to do to convince young voters that they’re the party for them?

With a reputation for being politically detached, young adults have tended to either not register to vote, or not turn up on the day. The 2010 General Election saw only 44% of 18 to 24 year olds vote, compared to 76% of people aged over 64.

However, political parties have begun to grasp the importance of social media when it comes to reaching out to a younger audience. The TV debates and social media tactics deployed by the parties are likely factors as to why the younger age groups (18 to 24, and 25 to 34) have seen an unusually high growth in voter registration this time round.

So, with more young people registered, how are the parties going to win their vote?

A poll by ComRes recently found that 93% of undecided voters would choose a party based on its economic policies. A poll for the think tank Demos has suggested that 69% of young people were concerned with the cost of living, and 62% would vote based on affordable housing policies. By comparison, only 34% were concerned with Britain’s relationship with the EU, and 43% were concerned by immigration.

The main topics of debate in this election have so far been the NHS, education, immigration and housing. However, only one of those appears in young voters’ top three issues.

The Conservatives used the words ‘young people’ 20 times in their manifesto and are pledging to keep rail fares in line with inflation until 2020, alongside extending the right-to-buy scheme for housing association tenants in England and scrapping income tax for anyone working more than 30 hours a week on minimum wage.

The Labour Party announced last week that they would abolish stamp duty for first-time buyers on homes up to £300,000 and introduce First Call – a policy giving first-time buyers first choice of new homes in their local area – alongside Local First, an initiative preventing foreign buyers from buying properties before local buyers have had the opportunity.

The Liberal Democrats are keeping it simple – pledging to build more houses than any other mainstream political party.

I fall into the age bracket 25 to 34, and voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 – yes, because of their tuition fee promise. Five years later, I’m one of the undecided young voters. With only a few days to go, I’m putting it down to the leaders themselves. None of the policies have persuaded me, but the leaders’ passion and personality just might.

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