SOME people have theorised that it could be young people that sway the upcoming general election one way or another.

In the period between the announcement of the general election and the closing of voter registration on November 26, 3.2 million people registered to vote, up 38 per cent on the 2017 election.

The majority of these, it has been claimed, will have been young voters, several of whom will be voting for the first time.

And this could make all the difference in marginal seats such as Dudley North. Traditionally a Labour constituency, the area voted strongly to leave in the 2016 EU referendum, with 67 per cent of voters backing an exit from the European Union.

And in recent years the pendulum seems to have been swinging away from Labour, with former MP Ian Austin holding the seat by just 22 votes back in 2017.

Mr Austin has since left the Labour party and urged people to vote Conservative, leaving a four-way race for the seat between Labour, the Conservatives, the Green Party and the Liberal Democrats.

So with everything to play for, what do young people in the area think about the choice ahead of them? We visited Dudley College to find out.

“I’ve always voted for Labour, and I’ll be doing the same at this election,” says 23-year-old Selina Avi.

“I think they’re more for the people than the other parties. A lot of it comes down to Brexit, of course, and it’s just doing our heads in. Other parties do have a point, but I think Labour more represents our voices, our people.”

“The Tories are a definite no I think,” agrees 20-year-old Keaton Barton.

“I think that their beliefs are just very shallow, so to speak. For me it’s a toss up between Labour and the Green Party.

“Boris Johnson is a bit of an imbecile, I’m sorry to say. He’s very disorganised, and to me they’ve never been appealing.

“I think it’s very diverse, in terms of our age range. I think it’s a lot to do with how people have grown up, and parental influences. I also think there’s a lack of education at our age range – there’s not a lot of information being transferred. I don’t think anyone can deliver everything they’ve said they’re gonna do, it’s just trying to win the vote isn’t it? But hopefully things like education do get prioritised.

“Well they’ve been in power for ten years now, so I think we need a change,” continues 25-year-old Dominic Holness.

“I don’t know how I’m gonna vote yet, I just know that we need a change, that’s all. It’s not about holding them accountable, I just don’t think they’ve done a very good job. There’s a lot of tit for tat and a lot of bickering among the parties, which doesn’t help.

“And it makes it more difficult to find out about policies and things like that.”

Such views aren’t representative of all young people, though. While many are expected to vote for left-leaning parties, there’s still a significant number of students at Dudley College planning on voting Conservative tomorrow (Dec 12).

And one of these is 18-year-old Jessica Mitchell, who will be voting for the first time,

“I’m a bit nervous, to be fair – it’s a lot of responsibility,” she says.

“Working out who to vote for has been hard, as obviously it’s very important. But what’s important to me is getting Brexit sorted – I think I would have voted Leave if I could have.

“It’s about a 50/50 split between Conservative and Labour in our age group. I’m not sure who to trust, though, as it seems like both sides lie a bit. Education funding is important to me as well, as I’m planning to go to university after college. I know Labour are planning to get rid of tuition fees, but I’m just not sure we can trust that.

“Brexit isn’t as important to me, to be honest,” continues her friend Mitchell Paul, also 18.

“Stuff like the minimum wage, especially for our age, matters a lot to me. So I think the Conservatives have stood out more to me for that reason – the minimum wage is going to be a lot higher under Labour and obviously that makes it harder for us to get jobs. But yeah, my family’s also very much about getting Brexit done, so I think I’ll vote Conservative.”

This election has been billed by many as the Brexit election, with millions of people set to vote for whichever party they feel can best represent them on the issue.

However Jack Howen, an A Level politics student, believes it shouldn’t just be about Brexit. He thinks that education spending and taxes should be prioritised just as much, and believes Boris Johnson is the man to deliver the change people need.

“People are portraying this as the Brexit election but it’s quite the opposite, in my opinion,” he says.

“Brexit is a massive issue, but for me one of the key policies I’m looking at are education – personally when it comes to education I would rather pay for it, and ensure that it’s a fair tuition fee, rather than don’t pay for it at all. University is a choice you make, and I don’t think the general public should have to pay for your choices.

“Some of the other key things im looking at is taxation – you know, taxation doesn’t directly affect me now, but it affects a lot of other people in the country. And I think Boris is a low tax high spend politician, trying to get investment into the country, and then spend that money effectively. And I think he’s going to do a lot of good work on education, especially with apprenticeships and higher end apprenticeships.

“As a politician I think he might appear quite brash and arrogant, but I think he’s actually a very caring individual. I mean I look at his cabinet and I’m seeing good people on his cabinet.

“I genuinely and whole heartedly believe everything he’s saying. I come from a family that has always voted Labour, and I’m the first person in my family to join the Conservative party, and that is as a result of Boris Johnson. I think he is one of the most trustworthy politicians we have. I think he’s a very straight talker.”