TEENAGERS and twenty-somethings are often portrayed as lazy do-nothings that can’t be bothered to get out of bed, never mind go to the polls.

But this could not be further from the truth – young people are not apathetic. Rather, young people are the lifeblood of campaigns. They have energised and enthused politics. They are passionate and care deeply about the issues: not because they are the future generation, but because they are the movers and shakers of the present too. Young people are coming of age in an increasingly unjust and crisis-laden world.

In the 2021 Holyrood elections, support for the SNP among young people was at an all-time high, with 58% of 16–34-year-olds backing the party and the Tories only managing to muster 10% of the vote. The local council elections today, I argue, will prove to be the most important since devolution.

I strongly encourage young people to turn out in numbers and keep voting SNP, and here’s why…

The SNP have introduced free bus travel for under 22s – a move that I believe will be one of the defining achievements of the SNP Government, right up there beside free university tuition. The scheme has promoted equality of opportunity by opening up access to education, leisure and work for young people. Alongside the party’s pledge to provide free bikes for school children, the scheme will support young people’s desire to live sustainably and help cut carbon emissions.

SNP councils will increase access to sporting, leisure and cultural opportunities in local communities — especially for young people from low-income backgrounds — to support national efforts to improve mental health and tackle social isolation.

Giving a helping hand to our country’s most disadvantaged young people is at the centre of SNP policy. That’s why the Job Start Payment and the Young Carer’s Grant have now risen by 6%. That is double the increase that Westminster has made to the benefits it controls. These Scottish Government benefits are game-changers in the fight against poverty and in tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

But many of the levers to reduce the impact of the crisis on young people lie in the hands of the Tories, so SNP councils will call for Rishi Sunak to reduce VAT on household energy bills and take urgent action to help the worst off. And councils will back the Scottish Government in its demands for a second independence referendum by the end of 2023 to give the Scottish people a choice on their future.

As a student, I know only too well the struggles of tight budgets and ever-growing costs. The SNP will scrap council tax for everyone under 22. For a young student living alone in a Band B property, that will mean an annual saving of around £750. Having grown up in a deprived area, I also know the difference that has been made by the SNP’s School Clothing Grant, recruitment of 3500 teachers, and investment in closing the education attainment gap.

With the SNP being the party with the most diverse candidates in this election, they have pledged to implement high-quality anti-racism education in schools and to deliver the recommendations on LGBT Inclusive Education.

It's clear that SNP councils will have young people’s priorities at heart and will support the Scottish Government’s ambitious programme. Young people can no longer trust the Tories, Labour and the LibDems. While young people in Scotland sacrificed the best years of their lives and time with beloved grannies and grandas, Boris Johnson partied in Downing Street. That’s because, unlike the Prime Minister, young people recognised that restrictions were for the wider good.

I am more optimistic than ever about Scotland’s future, and I am confident that Scotland’s young people will vote for the wider good today.

Let’s not just hope for a better future – let’s vote for one. Let’s vote to send Boris Johnson a message. Let’s vote to ease the squeeze.

As Roza Salih, a prominent immigration activist and SNP candidate in Glasgow, told me: “If young people don’t vote, then decisions are made for them by others.”

Lend your top preference votes to all the SNP candidates on your ballot. Lend your vote to a progressive, forward-thinking and outward-looking Scotland.