Millennials: be seen and be heard

Millennials have a reputation of spitting the dummy out of the pram when we don’t get what we want. We’re apparently self-expecting and don’t appreciate what our parents do for us. When something doesn’t go our way, we’re told we can’t get everything we want.

Most young people didn’t reject an independent Scotland but when we stayed part of the UK, we were told the world would keep spinning. Then came Brexit, which we didn’t vote for either. It’s what the majority wanted so we accepted that too. There was a snap general election and we didn’t want another Conservative government, but look who’s in charge yet again!

With politics, it’s not a case of wanting a Barbie and getting a Polly Pocket. These dolls do the same job, we accepted that as children. One politician won’t do the same job as another. This is something we need to speak up about. We’re adults who can make decisions for ourselves now. Being critical and voicing our opinions about the government doesn’t make us brats. It makes us worried about our future.

Following the snap general election, YouGov reported 72% of those aged 18-24 casted their vote. Considering voter apathy more commonly seems to be a problem in younger generations, it’s clear considerable progress has been made. However, the majority of those born in the late 1990s have yet to experience what it feels like to cast their vote and get the result they want. Some might say politics is like swings and roundabouts and our time will come when we get the government or result we want.

That might well be something to look forward to, but that doesn’t ease our concerns about what will happen in the next five years. How long will it be before we can be satisfied with who’s in charge? If our worst fears about our futures come true, will governments in years to come be able to rectify the damage caused?

If you search ‘Brexit and millennials’ on twitter you’ll have no problem finding criticisms about why we’re delusional for voting remain. We never thought of the EU as a magical, fairy tale kingdom that our parents and grandparents dragged us out of. We were perfectly aware of its flaws, but we did think we could change that. We know that liking something doesn’t make it exempt from scrutiny.

Pointing out the obvious, those who voted remain had their reasons for it. Employment opportunities were, of course, a big concern particularly amongst young people. The freedom of movement in the EU provides plenty of opportunities to find work in other countries regardless of potential language barriers.

Though Brexit won’t make it impossible to find work in countries like Spain or France, it certainly makes it a lot harder than it was in the first place. This isn’t because we’re lazy and expect jobs to be handed to us. Seeking employment without even thinking about Brexit is hard enough, but that’s a debate for another time.

Granted there’s a lot we still don’t know about this matter because of agreements that currently haven’t been established yet. However, it seems likely that visas and permits will be required. Brexit was criticised by some as being an old persons’ vote. Though everyone who can vote should, it’s easy for young people to lose hope and think their future will always be in someone else’s hands. Simply showing up at a polling station isn’t the only way make a change, so sometimes we need to be more creative than that.

If you feel your voice doesn’t matter, don’t sit and hope one day you’ll get the government you want just because your elderly relatives say that’s what’s going to happen. Hoping for the best achieves nothing. No major change in history was ever a result of people accepting the status quo. If your Gran’s friends roll their eyes or have a snarky remark to make about you ‘piping up about politics again’ then you’re doing something right. Long gone are the days when we were told that we should be seen and not heard. We should make sure we’re seen, and we have absolutely every reason to be heard.

Rebekah McVey is a fourth-year journalism student at the University of Stirling. She has previously written for the Kilmarnock Standard and Brig Newspaper. She was a member of the Scottish Socialist Party.