Hope not Hate stage silent suffrage demonstration  

Cardiff Uni students team up with the national campaign group to launch suffrage movement

Cardiff University students gathered outside City Hall last week in a silent demonstration to launch a ‘suffrage movement’ which hopes to rouse students into voting and make their voices heard in the upcoming general election.

Despite repeated claims of political apathy among students, young people are mobilising to raise awareness of the importance of voting in the forthcoming election, with university students across the UK working in collaboration with grassroots campaigners Hope Not Hate to highlight the importance of voting.

The action took place on Thursday, February 12 to raise awareness of the 14,000 students who have dropped off the electoral register in Cardiff alone this year. The group aims to encourage students to use their vote, with similar demonstrations being staged by university students across the UK.

The event’s organiser and Hope Not Hate campaigner, Thomas Godwin, said: ‘Over 23,000 people have fallen off the electoral register in Cardiff. The majority of them are students.

‘This is the biggest act of disenfranchisement in a generation, and it comes ahead of the most important and unpredictable general election of our lifetime.’

He added: ‘This visual demonstration represents the beginning of a new suffrage movement in Cardiff. Students are using radical new initiatives to win back the vote. If we do not speak, others will do so for us.’

The demonstration follows the recent revelation that Cardiff University’s student population is the second most powerful voting body of all UK universities, with the power to influence the up-coming general election, according to figures published by the Guardian.

Changes to electoral registration mean that voters are no longer registered by household, but must now register individually. As a result, 14,000 students have dropped off the electoral register.

Hope Not Hate (formerly Stop the BNP) campaign against political intolerance, staging and supporting grassroots movements ‘to build community resilience against extremism.’

Earlier this month, the campaign group organised the visit of American civil rights activist, Carlos Saavedra, whose campaigning in the US led to improved rights for undocumented migrants under Obama’s administration. Last week’s demonstration marks the first of many actions organised by the grassroots organisation set to take place across Cardiff in the run-up to the general election.

Cardiff University’s Students’ Union have themselves been pushing voter registration among the student body, and will be hosting several upcoming events highlighting the issue, including a number of MP speakers from various political parties.

Students are also now able to register online to vote through the Union’s website.