Sesh the vote: How young people and electronic music influenced the general election resultClick here to view original web page at mixmag.net
The kids have spoken. They want extra funding for the NHS and for taxes to be paid rather than avoided. They want a three-day weekend and bags of #cans4Corbyn. In yesterday’s general election, they dared to hope.
According to Sky News, 66.4 per cent of under 25s turned out to vote (some outlets report up to 72 per cent), up from 64 per cent in last year’s Brexit referendum and 51.8 per cent in 2010’s election. While some will have chosen other parties, it’s clear that many rallied behind Jeremy Corbyn and a Labour campaign that defied all odds (literally) to increase the party's presence in parliament. Yes, Theresa May and the Conservatives are still in power, but an important part of the electorate is woke like never before and they just contributed to a major political upset.
Many things made this happen: Whatsapp groups imploring mates to vote; weaponised memes; hashtags like #seshthevote; the refusal of a future where accessible education and healthcare aren’t guaranteed. And present throughout the run-up to the election was electronic music, an integral part of youth culture that undeniably helped get young voters up and out to the polls.
Perhaps most prominent was #grime4Corbyn, which became an informal tag for a bunch of MCs who were particularly vocal about registering to vote and getting informed on manifesto policies. Although he never explicitly endorsed a party, JME met with Corbyn to chew the fat, Stormzy encouraged empowerment and AJ Tracey spoke out about the housing crisis.
In the realm of house and techno, Patrick Topping and Floating Points both played Labour rallies and the likes of Jackmaster, Ben UFO, Madam X and Throwing Shade all urged people to register and vote, with Artwork posting a photo of himself during a canvassing session.
These musicians, all prominent figures within their respective genres, took control of the conversation and used their influence to encourage participation – invaluable when most politicians and mainstream media ignore the demographic these artists represent and speak to (this is slowly but surely changing in terms of MPs, though).
While The Sun and Daily Mail dedicated reams of copy to bashing anything that didn’t come with a Conservative stamp of approval, kids were taking cues from an alternative information source made up of viral videos, passionate tweets and youth media hyperlinks – all featuring their favourite DJs, MCs and producers.
And it’s not hard to understand why a large proportion of electronic music culture ended up supporting Corbyn and Labour (if we've missed a similar surge of support for the Conservatives, please let us know and we'll link to it). His policies are aimed at young people, he doesn’t talk smack and he looks as good in a Wilson tracksuit as Skepta does in a Cottweiler one. Just before the election he pledged to support live music, while his main rivals will always be known for going against the very values that electronic music is built on.
As we’ve explained before, electronic music and politics are intertwined. Things like Brexit and licensing have direct consequences on dance music. Whichever way they’re voting, it’s completely positive that more young people than ever before are turning up to the polls and that artists are encouraging them to do so.