New voters ignore election—but East End OAPs eager to vote

FIRST-time voters in East London may ignore the Election, while pensioners are all raring to get to the polls on May 6. Students at Queen Mary’s college told the East London Advertiser they may not vote, while Age Concern’s research shows people over 55 twice as likely to

By Emily Gosling and Keir Mudie

FIRST-time voters in East London may ignore the General Election, while pensioners are all raring to get to the polls on May 6, according to latest research.

Students at Queen Mary's university college in Mile End were quizzed by the East London Advertiser on how involved they were in the election.

Most were too busy working on their degrees to debate or even think about the election.

Dentistry student Saleem Hasamally, 20, feels his vote wouldn't make a difference and has little awareness of the election.

"I didn't even know it was on May 6," he admits. "No one really talks about policies. I couldn't imagine more than 30 per cent of 18-year-olds voting."

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There is a feeling among today's students of being 'cut off' from the issues of the day. They feel there is nothing on campus to promote the election or even to tell them how to register.

But East London's 'grey vote' could be a key factor at the polls.

Age Concern's latest research shows people over 55 are twice as likely to vote as those under 25.

Its director Michelle Mitchell said: "Older people's votes cannot be taken for granted. They are not lifelong supporters of one political party.

"The over 60s care about issues and their decisions are based on families, hopes and worries for the future."

The East End Pensioners' Forum has held two hustings meetings where they had a chance to put candidates in the hot seat.

The first was in the 'knife edge' Poplar & Limehouse constituency held at St John's community centre on the Isle of Dogs, where pensioners focussed on the East End's big issue of council housing being transferred to private social landlords.

The second hustings was in Bethnal Green & Bow constituency held at St Hilda's community centre in Club Row, where pensioners tackled candidates over the falling value of State pensions.