“Under-30s love Corbyn but they don’t care enough to get off their lazy arses to vote for him!”
This message from a Tory candidate and MP of 10 years, reported anonymously by Huffington Post, could not be more provocative – or more inspirational.
You don’t need a great deal of faith in opinion polls to know the first part of what he said is true. Labour’s lead over the Tories among the under-25s is an astonishing 57%, according to YouGov last week.
But is he right about the second part?
Younger voters have traditionally been less enthusiastic than their parents and grandparents about actually going into the polling booths.
The result is that opinion poll companies – attempting to recover from their debacle at the 2015 general election – have now heavily weighted their results to discount much of the youth vote.
Last Friday’s poll in London’s Evening Standard gave the Tories a five-point lead over Labour, at 45 to 40, even though the raw survey data put Labour in the lead by 42 to 40.
So the big question is: will the younger voters repeat what happened two years ago and not turn up? Will they share memes and videos on social media but then fail to “get off their lazy arses”?
This is the big question that could decide whether Theresa May gets the increased majority she was expecting when she called this snap election – or whether Jeremy Corbyn, the man who two years ago was the 200-1 outsider even to become Labour leader, walks into No 10 on Friday.
Until recently, that prospect was almost unthinkable. Certainly, the Tories, the media and much of the parliamentary Labour Party thought it was a laughable idea.
They are not laughing now.
And that Tory candidate put his finger on the reason why: young people love Jeremy Corbyn.
I saw this enthusiasm first-hand when Corbyn visited my home town. There was a massive crush to hear him speak (so much so that he had to repeat his speech outside to all those – including some who waded across the river – who couldn’t get into the hall).
Among the crowd were loads of excited teenagers, some of them too young even to vote. One woman told me she hoped the TV cameras wouldn’t catch sight of her son as he and his mates were so desperate to see Corbyn that they had bunked off school.
Hard to believe this enthusiasm for a leader who is not so far off 70 years old.
Of course, young people kind of liked Ed Miliband too, but not enough for them all to do something about it.
This time it seems they are taking action.
Everyone recognised early on that younger voters held the key to this election, so all the major parties pushed hard to get as many as possible registered to vote before the May 22 deadline.
All the major parties, that is, except the Tories. They made no effort at all to encourage a voter registration drive – and that’s all you need to know about what they fear more than anything else.
What they fear is what actually happened: a quarter of a million under-25s registered online to vote on the last possible day. Two million under-34s registered in the five weeks leading up to the deadline.
Those voters have the power to change the future of this country for the better, so if you are one of them, here is my appeal to you.
Vote! Get your friends to vote! Don’t let any of them say they can’t be bothered.
Voting is very simple and it takes no time at all. You just go to your local polling station (you don’t even need your polling card), your name will be ticked off the list and they will give you a ballot paper.
Take it into the booth, put a cross next to the candidate of your choice with the pencil provided, fold it and drop it into the box. That’s it.
But why not make a day of it?
Hold an all-day general election party if necessary to get all your friends voting. Then stay up to watch the results.
And while you are about it, talk your parents and grandparents into voting this government out too. If they aren’t sure, win them over with your enthusiasm, as my daughters did to me.
This is a special and all too rare opportunity.
For too long people have got out of voting by saying the parties and the leaders “are all the same”. This time they definitely aren’t. This time there is a genuine alternative to the politics of misery that have been forced on us for the past 40 years.
Vote for hope. Vote for a better future. Vote for free university education. Even vote for Corbyn’s Labour Party because you like grime or because Kerrang! put him on the front cover. But whatever you vote for…just vote!