Posted by noel on 9 Nov 2009
Now is a critical time in British politics and it's a shame that no one cares. I'm not prepared to label everyone but the evidence suggests that the majority of young people don't care and won't vote, and whilst this is true of the whole population (with a general decline in voters turning out) apathy is worst amongst the 18 to 24 year old age group, with less than 40 per cent using their vote compared to over 75 per cent of those aged 65 or over.
This isn't about age or ideology but I simply believe that the priorities of those aged 65 or over are very different from those of people aged 18 to 24 and as we are currently inheriting a huge debt from the generation gone before us I would like to see everyone my age taking this seriously and using their vote to make their voices heard. The common argument is that it won't make a difference - of course it will, and personally I believe that those people who haven't actively engaged in the democratic process - have no right to complain when they think things in Westminster aren't quite what they want - please people, don't bury your heads in the sand.
The decisions made at the next election (or any for that matter) do affect you and we might be living with the consequences for years to come.
Take the time to figure out what's important to you - this isn't about reforming the democratic process but simply engaging with it. Politics like wider society in general relies on people engaging with it, you can't expect it to come to you. I think it's fair to assume that the things that matter to people are those that they see as influencing their lives either now or in the future i.e. employment, the environment. Please make your voice heard.
It could not be easier to vote - it takes five minutes after registering and all you need to do is put a cross in the box of your chosen candidate.
A study by the University of Plymouth in 2003 argues that the UK has amongst the lowest voter turnout in Europe and for the population as a whole in 2001 turnout was as low as just 23 per cent - do we want to live in a country where over three quarters of the population haven't had a say in how their lives are determined?
Be grown up please and accept that it's your responsibility, the reason that politicians don't know what you want is because no one tells them!
One of my concerns is that people simply don't know how to vote and I would like to see a campaign aimed at young people to educate them - a one stop shop where people can register to vote, have the political parties manifesto's explained and learn about the voting process and why it's important. Having it all available, in one easy place, will make it very simple and take a lot of the hard work out of looking for it yourself.
I think its a tragedy that people aren't taught about the governing bodies and processes of their country at school, perhaps a campaign would go some way to compensating for this.
Would people like to see apathy legitimised too? Is there an argument for included in the ballot card a box that simply says "I do not want any of these candidates" ? If people don't feel their interests are adequately represented then this will give them a chance to voice there concerns and say - for arguments sake if 50 per cent of the population said no then the election would be held again - this would be a true democracy, currently there isn't this choice obviously and I liken it to walking into a car show room and wanting a red car and all they have is a blue and yellow car - and right now, the way it is (without this ability to say no) you'd have to choose either a blue or a yellow car. This may be one reason why people just don't care
I believe that young people are intelligent and actually very politically aware - the majority of people will without realising it, have probably engaged in some kind of consumer politics i.e. buying a fair trade product or boycotting those that they feel are unethical - this is great and I know being only 22 myself that the stereotype of a young, apathetic and lazy person is untrue - so please let's not become the "whatever" generation and actively influence our circumstances.