Time for strong leadership
The best strategy to encourage the young to partake in politics and become Eurosceptic is simple. What we must do is learn to inspire young people. From a series of focus group studies and questionnaires that I carried out I have devised a set of nine proposals. These proposals outline the most appropriate communication techniques when targeting 18-30 year olds.
The temptation to address young people by using images, language and other 'tags' of identity, that are perceived to belong to their generation should be resisted. These attempts are merely perceived to be at best corny and at worst derogatory. However, the young do still feel the need to be addressed and would appreciate a more direct approach.
One should communicate in a less modest tone. The young will respond to strong ideological leadership on the 'Hot Button Issues' that they are concerned with.
Young people are not inspired by Blair's Third Way. The young are often uninterested in middle of the road politics and are more likely to be either attracted to the left or to the right, but not to the centre. Therefore, soft touchy-feely Euroscepticism will offer little reward.
Euroscepticism is a powerful emotive theme among the young. Policies that are labelled as strong will go down well with young people.
Young people want strong unsubtle tags of identity. This is reflected in their social behaviour and their purchasing patterns of items such as music and fashion. Therefore, to help enthuse the young to be Eurosceptic, political allegiance and the encouragement of a firm stand on strong issues of importance can act as a tag of identity. Such a strategy is one where modern consumer theories of marketing - which sell products to young adults on the grounds that it is a 'tag of identity' - are taken advantage of, rather than using the language and imagery of commercial youth marketing.
Young people should be talked-up-to. Although many young people may not have a strong technical grasp of the consequences of certain European issues - many focus group members did claim that they were not adequately informed - they should be addressed as intelligent mature members of Britain's democracy.
Communications towards the young should contrast with messages sent out to older generations. They should carry a high degree of emotional impact, and focus on the moral benefits of a particular policy, which should also be relevant to the concerns of young people.
Young people like any other group in society want a secure future. What is more, perhaps due to the uncertainty of youth, the young may in fact crave this more. Therefore, it is important to offer them messages that reassure them that certain policies will offer them a secure and prosperous future. This would mean addressing them, not as the caricature of a hip and trendy young person, but, as an individual who will be an increasingly productive, responsible and important member of society. In short, what young people (18-30) aspire to be.
Many 18-30 year olds are deeply disenchanted with the Labour Party. Furthermore, many youths often have a strong antipathy towards the control freak image. Therefore, there is a good opportunity for Eurosceptics to maximise their share of the youth support by presenting themselves as a political force that will challenge and stand-up-to New Labour. This is part of the appeal that the maverick Ken Livingstone enjoys. Therefore, a strategy that can in-part be viewed as a direct assault on New Labour would be extremely beneficial.
If Eurosceptic strategists follow these proposals and offer a strong ideological anti-euro stance, and offer leadership rather than behaving like a watered down version of the Liberal Democrats we will have an excellent opportunity to appeal to the young. All that has to be done is offer young voters something to believe in, something to fight for. This will be their tag of identity, and will contrast with the shallowness of the Europhiles.