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Politicians viewed as self-interested, deceitful and power-hungry by millennial voters

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: May 29, 2014

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Millennial women are so uninspired by British politicians they would prefer to vote for foreign politicians or politicians who are dead than leaders of the current political parties.

Barack Obama is the most admired (35%), followed by Hillary Clinton (7%) and Margaret Thatcher (6%) compared to just 4% and 1% of women voting for Cameron and Clegg respectively.

While only 1% voted for Clegg in the line up of the politicians they most admire, 3% said they would vote for reality star Joey Essex in a line up of alternative candidates.

Our politicians are doing so little to win over young women voters that MPs are overwhelmingly described as self-interested, deceitful and power hungry with a mere 1% of women believing politicians to be hardworking, intelligent and essential.

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The research, based on 1,000 millennial women surveyed by Cosmopolitan*, also found that two in five young women (19%) would be more willing to vote if there was less lying and spin and if we had politicians they admired and trusted. 12% want a completely new system and 62% agreed with Russell Brand calling our political system ‘broken’.

Whilst Labour currently comes top (35%) in terms of who young women would vote for followed by the Conservatives (17%), opinion is spilt between UKIP and the Liberal Democrats with 7% of women choosing to vote for both. The UKIP vote has huge regional variation with the party having most sway in East Anglia with 21% of women stating they will vote for them compared to no one in the East Midlands.

The major issue is that young women feel overwhelmingly that politicians are doing nothing to deal with the issues they are most concerned about. Despite the fact we have supposedly come out of the recession the cost of living tops their list of worries (57%), followed by housing (39%) and unemployment (35%). In fact, 46% are so worried about unemployment and work stress that it keeps them awake at night.

The political parties are not attracting young female talent to their ranks either with 84% vowing they would never consider it as a career. In a list of career choices, being a politician scored marginally more than being a stripper. The preferred career choices were teacher or doctor, followed by journalist, model and banker.

Despite lack of money being the top concern that keeps young women awake at night, over a third (35%) give a regular donation to charity.

“In the phase of their lives that should be the most carefree, millennial women are feeling huge concerns about work, unemployment and debt – and no one is listening,” said Louise Court, Editor-in-Chief, Cosmopolitan. “British politicians have a huge disconnect with young women and have a big fight on their hands if they want to win the battle for the millennial vote. The sad reality is that more and more women will become disengaged as we reach the general election. I fear this means few will turn out at the ballot box.

Whilst our research shows young women want to vote, it’s a sad reality that the closer we get to the general election, more and more millennial women will disengage with politics further still. These women are our country's future, but as the millennial vote dwindles there will be less representation of their views and they’ll have no stake in the political process of this country and how its run. There are still many political battles that affect women that need to be fought – not least the fact they earn less than men. Just as the last election was dubbed the ‘Mumsnet election’ because of the importance of their vote – next year should be tagged the ‘Millennial election’. If politicians fail to communicate and engage with these millions of young women, the whole system will ultimately fail."

National Union of Students President, Toni Pearce said:

“I’ve always believed that it’s not that young people aren’t interested in politics; it’s just that many don’t find it very accessible at the moment. Our leaders just aren’t representative of the society we live in - men outnumber women four to one in Parliament and out of a cabinet of 23, only four are women. How can we trust their decision making on issues that affect us, when most of them probably won’t have any first-hand experience of them?

If more young people vote, politicians will have no choice but to take notice and serve their interests, which is why everyone should get out to their polling station in the next general election and cast their vote.”

The main statistics for women in the Midlands (split into East and West) are:

East Midlands

55% of millennials in the East Midlands plan to vote in the general election

27% of young women in the East Midlands don’t know if they’re registered to vote

Labour wins the vote with 50% of women planning to vote for them compared to 33% for the Conservatives and 17% don’t know – UKIP and Lib Dems receive zero support

The top three issues young women in the East Midlands are most worried about are the cost of living, immigration and getting on the property ladder

59% agree with Russell brand that our political system is broken

Barack Obama is the most inspiration politician with 50% of millennials in the East Midlands stating that he is the politician they admire the most. This compares to just 5% for Cameron

77% wish they had a greater say in the decisions that affect them

Despite being most worried about the cost of living, 45% give a regular donation to charity – women in this region are the most likely to donate to charity

35% think they are better off than their parents were at their age

36% would vote for Ant & Dec if they were running for Parliament

West Midlands

· 72% of millennials in the West Midlands plan to vote in the general election

· The majority of women who believe they are worst off than their parents were at their age reside in the West Midlands (43%)

· 23% don’t know which party they’ll vote for, 39% plan to vote for Labour, 19% Conservative, 8% Lib Dem, 7% UKIP and 4% Green

· The top three issues young women in the West Midlands are most worried about are the cost of living, getting on the property ladder and unemployment

· 65% agree with Russell brand that our political system is broken

· 33% state Obama is the politician they most admire, followed by Hilary Clinton (8%). This compares to Ed Milliband (4%), David Cameron (3%) and Nick Clegg (1%)

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