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Cheers: Labour Party launch campaign with Stroud Brewery

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Labour Party candidate Dr Simon Opher has teamed up with Stroud Brewery.

In a campaign to get younger people and other groups of all political preferences more engaged in the political process with a  ‘Have Your Say’ voter registration event at the Stroud Brewery Balcony Bar, at 7pm on Thursday.

The figures are eye opening. The general election in 2019 saw turnout – the proportion of people voting – at 47% of people aged 18-24. This compares to over 80% of voters aged 55 or over. And the situation is worsening, with turnout in the under 25s dropping 7% between 2017 and 2019.

Young people are much less likely to vote in the UK compared to Europe, where the percentage of voters in the same age group is in the high 60s in Netherlands and Germany, and even higher in Scandinavia.

The reasons for the low turnout in the UK are complicated. Lack of direct political education at school may contribute. Our voting system of first past the post means that in constituencies with a large political majority, voting for an opposition party might feel pointless. It’s no coincidence that most of Europe has some form of proportional representation.

Dr Opher said: “It’s a vicious circle. Often people are not inspired by what they see and hear, so fewer of them feel  motivated to vote, which means that political parties skew their policies towards people who are more likely to vote, and don’t always address problems that others face. The right to vote was hard won in this country. People were imprisoned, deported and even killed, simply for demanding the right to vote that we now take for granted.

“I’d like to see everyone exercising their democratic right. This means making sure they are registered, and have the necessary ID. The recent insistence on voter ID also disproportionately affects younger voters and other groups, but can be avoided by registering for a postal vote.

“We are running a campaign with Stroud Brewery to encourage people to register to vote. The Brewery is printing 5000 beer mats with a QR code that links to the voter registration page. I’ve also been talking to sixth form school and college groups to encourage democratic engagement, and we’ve put window stickers in shops, cafes and pubs around the district with the same QR code. ”

“To be honest, I’m more interested in local young people registering and voting than whether they vote for me and the Labour Party. A healthy democracy is incredibly important for our community.”

Jade Bashford, co-founder and Director of Stroud Brewery added: “We’re very happy to support this initiative. Lots of people feel excluded from the political process, not just younger people, so we miss out on their input, ideas and enthusiasm. Stroud Brewery serves a richly diverse community, and I would like all members of our community to be heard and represented by politicians.

“We’re supporting the campaign with an event at the Brewery where people can register to vote and chat about what’s important to them over a drink or a bite to eat. It’s here in the Balcony Bar, 7pm Thursday 11th April. All are welcome.”

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