Before I get in to this blog post I just need to make one thing very clear: I am not, and do not think I am, an expert in politics. I have studied political party manifestos for the upcoming election, watched “Cameron & Miliband Live: The Battle for Number 10″ and the ITV/BBC Leaders Debates (click the links to catch up on these) and follow party leaders on social networking sites to keep up to date with any news in the run up to the election in May, but in the grand scheme of things I don’t really know much. Politics very much interest me and I have definitely formed my own opinion based on the information I’ve accessed. So that’s basically what you’re reading here.
Politics don’t have to be this scary, unknown territory that we aren’t qualified enough to have an opinion on. I can’t decide what the bigger shame is: that people are scared to talk about politics or back a party that interests them in case they say something or think something ‘wrong’, or that people have no interest in the subject whatsoever. I’m aware that the whole thing is designed to confuse normal people in order to keep us from having a real say in anything that goes on around us – but that’s a whole other blog post. There are ways to access information that pretty much translate the scripted rubbish politicians come out with and break it down in to something a bit more informal and easier to understand.
The only question you need to ask yourself is: what do you want for you and the country you live in? If you can answer that, your voice matters. And every vote counts. The people that don’t think they can answer that question are the exact reason why I am blogging today. Statistics show that only 44% of 18-24 year olds in the UK voted in the last general election. The chart below shows just how close the number of voters are between the two ‘biggies’ – Labour and Conservative.
The latest opinion polls are not going to be completely accurate representations of the party people vote for on the day, but it does give us some idea of what people are thinking. Based on this, the 56% of young people that did not vote in the last election have the power to determine the results in this one. The 6.8 million of us under 25 really do have a say in what happens. We are basically Batman.
The typical things I hear from people when I have this conversation with them are:
- “My vote won’t change anything anyway.”
- “I’m just not interested in politics, it doesn’t affect me.”
- “I don’t understand what any of them are on about.”
- “I’m not voting because they’re all a bunch of corrupt d**kheads.” (An excuse that I myself am guilty of saying about a year ago).
First of all, the numbers above make it clear just how much potential influence the under 25 year olds (and in fact any of the age groups, as none of them have 100% of people voting) have right now on the outcome of this election. The Green Party are currently favoured by about 5% of people, but those 56% of young people and the others that aren’t planning on voting could have them steaming ahead of the familiar faces of Cameron and Miliband. We should all be evil-cackling at what we could do here.
Secondly, how can you ‘not be interested’ in what happens to the organisations and services (schools, hospitals, the beloved NHS etc.) that affect you, your loved ones and everyone around you every single day?! Before the year of 1918 women were not considered worthy to vote, and after all the relentless campaigning for equality only 64% of women voted in the 2010 general election. Only 66% of men did the same. As I mentioned before I am aware that the political jargon can be very confusing and intimidating, but there are ways round it to help you understand. If any of my readers want me to do a blog series on each of the ‘big 7’ political party manifestos and what they really mean (to my understanding), let me know in the comments below.
‘Vote For Policies’ is a fantastic site that lets you ‘compare policies from each party in their own words, and make an informed decision about who to vote for at the 2015 general election’. You don’t know who any of the policies belong to until the end, when you are given your results in percentages and can see which party best suits your ideas and beliefs. This is a great way to overcome your preconceptions of each party based on the person standing as party leader. The whole idea is to promote voting for the policies, not the personalities or faces of each party. If you’d like to have a go at the survey, click here.
Number 4 was my way of thinking for a very long time. When you see the corruption and lies that go on constantly in the world of politics, it’s hard to have any faith in the system. I do understand that. This time last year I was adamant that I would not be voting in the 2015 general election. How could I vote for and support a person that I did not trust? How could I back a party that I don’t completely agree with? Could I ever live with myself for going against everything I believe in?
In the end I realised that I had been dragged in to a trap way of thinking that was exactly what the political leaders had planned for and wanted. It’s so easy for us to be controlled if we let ourselves, and the more we distance ourselves from our positions of potential power, the easier it is for someone to be leading our country in a way the majority disagree with. We need to stand up and let our voices be heard – and with fresh faces such as Natalie Bennett (Greens) and Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) snatching voters from the bigger parties that have let us down time and time again, NOW is the best time to think about making a vote for what could possibly be a real change.
To register to vote, click here.