The efforts to increase voting participation this year, particularly youth votes, have included interviews with Joey Essex, multiple television debates and, and a visit to the live lounge of radio 1. We know exactly why we should vote – people have died for their right to vote, we our exercising our powers of democracy, and ultimately influencing the policies which will decide how our countries are run. Today, Amelia Worley urges us all to get out and vote.
Yes, our voting system is fundamentally flawed (yet we said no to the alternative vote),
Yes, we are uninspired by the party leaders.
Yes, we feel disappointed by the outcome of our votes in the last general election (notably the dominant younger Liberal Democrat voters who ended up disillusioned with extortionate tuition fees).
In addition, public figures, most notably Russell Brand in his interview with Jeremy Paxton gave extremely valid reason as to why he wouldn’t be voting, in an extremely persuasive way – and gave the ‘no voting’ option a perhaps rebellious and glamorous edge.
And with politicians partaking in some quite frankly cringe worthy activities in a bid to win your vote, and Buzzfeed putting together quite frankly hilarious pieces putting Ed Miliband’s unfortunate facial expressions, the run up to the election this year has become more about the leaders rather than the policies than ever. This has been particularly evident with the personal attacks on Ed Miliband, rather than his party’s policies.
Despite knowing the importance of the general election and voting, and although most of us don’t really like to admit to it, UK politics tends to be dry and fairly dull. Therefore, we are quite slack on researching tax and economy policies of each party. But there are lots of really fantastic resources out there making this easy for you meaning that you don’t actually have to read each party’s manifesto – try this quiz from the Independent to find out which policies you side with most.
The election and the economic deficit seeming like something very distant to your everyday life, the reality is that who wins this election will affect your life in one way or another – this was especially validated for young people with the changed tuition fees after the last election. Over the next 5 years, taxes will not just affect your parents, the management of the NHS will be something that impacts your everyday life, and home owning will become something that is coming further onto your radar.
Despite the arguments, not voting as a form of protest is not the way forward. Not voting will not change the system – parties will continue to win with a smaller mandate. UKIP becoming the biggest party in the European Parliament with just 9%of the vote confirms this – not voting will only make it easier for the dominant Westminster parties to retain the majority of power, and for smaller extremist parties to get into parliament.
Today’s election will be interesting, and excitingly unpredictable. The power and support held by the 3 main parties is shifting; the Greens, Scottish National Party and UKIP have made a significant dent in this year’s general election, regardless of the outcome. It is pretty likely there will be either a hung parliament or minority government, meaning that smaller parties are likely to gain further power within the walls of Westminster, and perhaps even change the paradigm of the 3 main parties permanently – meaning you will be able to not vote for the Conservatives, Labour or Liberal Democrats, and your vote will still count.
People are often put off by talking politics in the fear that they don’t know as much as the other person partaking in discussion and will be therefore made a fool out of. To discuss your views on UK politics and form an opinion, you do not need to know about every last tax reform and benefit cut planned by the parties – know about what is important to you, be that international aid, the NHS, or education – don’t be put off by men in suits talking about the budget. Do justice to what you care about – and make your voice heard.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of Development in Action.
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