Communicating with the young: How to enhance their Euroscepticism
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
- Euroscepticism is a powerful emotive theme among the
young. Policies that are labelled as strong will go down well with
- 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