‘Brexit has politicised a generation’: Hackney councillor Mete Coban on helping drum up a record youth turnout

PUBLISHED: 14:17 12 June 2017 | UPDATED: 18:02 13 June 2017

Getting out the vote: Cllr Mete Coban at a MLMS youth engagement event in Blackburn.

Getting out the vote: Cllr Mete Coban at a MLMS youth engagement event in Blackburn.

mete coban

Mete Coban has been working to engage young people in politics for years and is delighted with Thursday’s record turnout – but insists he “knew it was coming”.

Mete Coban Mete Coban

Between 57 and 59 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds are estimated to have voted in the general election, compared with 43pc two years ago. And after Mete, 24, who is Labour’s youngest councillor, has been touring the country with his charity My Life My Say (MLMS) to encourage young people to sign up – and he’s sure it had an impact.

He began to question why young people don’t participate more in elections when he ran a youth engagement project at Labour HQ in the run-up to the 2010 election. He set up MLMS to “rebrand politics”, and “overcome the misconception” it isn’t relevant to everyday life.

From May 15 to 22, MLMS toured London, Newcastle, Cardiff, Belfast, Sheffield, Manchester and Edinburgh to encourage young people to register to vote.

“With my Labour hat on it was good, but I was really happy about the turnout,” said Mete.

“We knew from the buzz we had going out to all these cities you were going to get a high youth turnout. The amount of engagement we had was amazing. There are so many issues that everyone wants to have a say.

“The average age of a first-time buyer is 39. There are zero-hour contracts and low-level entry jobs. People are leaving uni with massive debts.

“No hope, really. All these issues along with Brexit have politicised a generation.”

Added to that, “Corbyn put young people at the heart of his election campaign”.

“Corbyn is different because he’s not really an establishment figure,” said Mete, who became a councillor in 2014 at just 21. “One of the reasons people are put off politics is they see the people are all the same.

“I think they saw he‘s a bit different and it gave them hope.”

Mete was concerned that if the Tories had had pulled off the landslide predicted by some, it “would have put young people off politics even more”.

“People would have thought: ‘It’s my first time voting and nothing is going to change - what’s the point?’,” he said.

“This election demonstrated how people’s votes can make a difference. The SNP in Scotland won only won by two votes, Zac Goldsmith won by 40 votes and Labour picked up Kensington with 20 votes.”

Latest Hackney Stories


Good news for Arsenal fans travelling to Atletico Madrid. Bigwigs at the club have decided to subsidise tickets for the Europa League semi-final second leg away in the Spanish capital.

All Guns Blazing guest columnist Rosie Tudball raises an issue which has had loyal Arsenal fans fuming ahead of the eagerly-awaited tie with Atletico Madrid in the Europa League semi-final.


Arsene Wenger has revealed Arsenal have offered a “long-term” contract to Jack Wilshere and that his future will be decided before the World Cup.


Chief executive Danny Macklin is looking forwar to working closely with Dream Team in the coming seasons


On Saturday Tottenham and Man United will do battle at the national stadium, Spurs’ home venue for this season, for a place in the FA Cup final


Chestertons, one of London’s top estate agents, are giving away 1,000 tickets to see a historic match at Lord’s to celebrate its new sponsorship of the Middlesex women’s cricket team.

A “reckless” pair who tried to steal two mopeds in Old Street were arrested all the way out in Essex, after a dramatic chase which saw cops on the ground guided by their colleagues in a helicopter.

One is the master of his trade and the other is looking to make his mark, but the Orient wingers have forged a close bond this season


To celebrate LGBT history month, Hackney resident Amanda talks about her journey to becoming a foster carer, with the council’s support and training.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Most read

Show Job Lists