Why Corbyn's wave of youth support may not carry him to Downing Street

Much has been said and criticised about the "magic money tree" Corybn will have to unearth to make Labour's overambitious economic plan work. But a more important aspect of Corbyn's policies is his appeal to under 25s, an age group who feel that they have long been alienated by mainstream politics.

Historically this has been the group with the lowest voting turnout, with just 58% of 18-24 voting in the 2015 general election according to British Election Study (BES). But this fraction has been highly variable, rising from a 52% turnout in 2010 and just 38% in 2005. A study conducted by Matt Henn and Nick Foard concluded that whilst young people are firmly absorbed in political ideas, they "feel considerably disenchanted by their recent experiences of formal politics, and remain relatively disengaged from the political process and from democratic institutions and players". If Corbyn is able to overcome this disenchantment then, coupled with Corbyn's seductive policies aimed at the younger voter—the abolition of university fees, a possible write-off of existing student debt, and rent controls—he could see a wave of support from the so-called 'Snowflake generation'.

Corbyn has resonated with the young voter, partly through gimmicks such as meeting with popular grime artists, appearing at a Libertines gig, as well as his youth-targeting policies. Many 18-24s see Corbyn as a rare breed—a genuinely compassionate politician, eager to spearhead positive change for the youth. Whilst the youth are often branded as naive and impressionable, the flipside is that they can also provide a boisterous base for a social media campaign, not to mention memes. His perceived honesty too is another factor that seems to play well with the younger voter, many of whom may feel disenchanted and embittered by Theresa May's inability to answer a question directly, not to mention her association with Brexit (18-24s were strongly in favour of Remain), and austerity.

However, it does not seem like Corbyn will surf this tidal wave of youth support to Number 10, his resonance with the young is matched by the complete opposite reaction from the older voter. This focus on the youth vote may well prove to be an error—older voters have consistently proven to be the most likely to vote. What's more, the youth vote tends to be concentrated in areas that are overwhelmingly Labour anyway, with nine out of the 10 seats where young voters are the greatest share of the population, such as Sheffield Central and Cardiff Central, already won by Labour in 2015. Piling up extra votes in safe Labour seats is not the route to a Corbyn majority.

Ultimately, despite Corbyn's attempts to actively incorporate the younger voters as a major breeding ground of partisan Labour support, disenchantment and dissatisfaction towards mainstream politics, coupled with alienation of the older voter, will make it troublesome for Corybn to place so many eggs into the younger voter basket.