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UK: Young voters ‘to shun ballot box’

(London) About two million young people eligible to vote for the first time at next year’s general election will shun the ballot box, polling has found.

The disillusioned 17 to 21-year-olds believe politicians do not have a grip on the issues that are most important to them and instead prioritise the demands of big business, pensioners, homeowners and even celebrities, according to a study.

Labour comes out on top with future voters but there is little enthusiasm for the Liberal Democrats among the young, who were previously considered part of their traditional core support.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has less backing to run the country among the group than comedian Russell Brand and controversial television presenter Jeremy Clarkson.

The YouGov study for the think-tank British Future, published in the Daily Mirror, found 41% of the 3.3 million young people eligible to take part in the 2015 election definitely intend to cast their vote.

It found 40% of those will choose Labour, 25% will go for the Conservatives, while 12% will pick Ukip and 9% the Green party.

Just 5% plan to support the Liberal Democrat, a result the report links to the party’s notorious U-turn on tuition fees.

Labour leader Ed Miliband came out top as the best person to run the country, backed by 17% of the overall group, followed by David Cameron and Boris Johnson who both scored 15%.

Lord Sugar and Russell Brand were both backed by 12% of the young voters as most suited for the job followed by Jeremy Clarkson on 11%.

Ukip leader Nigel Farage scored 9% while the Deputy Prime Minister languished on just 6%, tying with television chef Jamie Oliver.

Sunder Katwala, director of British Future, said: “The next generation of Britain’s voters clearly feel they’re affected by big political issues like jobs, education and housing. But they also think that political leaders don’t understand their worries or listen to their concerns.

“The message for our political class is clear: get better at engaging young people and representing their views.

“But there’s also a challenge for young people. Not voting may show that they are disaffected, but it’s the least likely way to get politicians to listen. First-time voters may pay a high price if they sit out the election rather than using their power to get heard.

“Young people think differently to their parents and grandparents’ generations. They could change the balance of opinion in the country.

“If the 2015 election is as close-run as everyone thinks, just half of the missing two million first time voters could decide the result – if they turn up.”

:: YouGov surveyed 1,005 people aged 17-21 online between 17-23 April.

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