So I would like to start by apologising for not blogging for a while! Things have been busy at PP HQ – we’ve had three events in two weeks and have been working on lots of exciting projects, including our PP: Sixth events and Cambridge Taster Days! What better than the general election to bring my attention back to the PP blog! So here’s a piece I have written for all you young voters out there. Enjoy.
There are over 3.3 million young people aged 18-25 eligible to hit the polls this May, but only 1.3 million are likely to actually vote. Some are shocked by this, whilst others aren’t surprised at all. Channel 4 is pulling the plug on E4 on the day of the general election to entice young voters to take to the poles, whilst Ed Miliband has conducted an interview with Russell Brand in the hope to appeal to young voters.
2005 was my first general election and I definitely recall feeling a sense of duty and pride as I walked into the polling booth for the first time to cast my vote. I remembered those who had sacrificed their freedom for my right to vote, as well as all those around the world living in countries where democracy is a privilege, not a right. But how important is the ‘youth vote’ in this year’s general election? I believe it is imperative. As young citizens, collectively you have the ability to create a powerful voice, a stir in the ranks, and really influence who lives in Number 10 this year. It’s just a shame that so many of you will opt-out.
There is much speculation around why young people don’t vote. Many will cast you as lazy, whilst others will call you disengaged and out of touch. I am a strong believer in young people – I really do think that most of you do care about what happens in our society and you do want to engage but you are often left out of the discussion. How often do we see party leaders addressing young people directly about issues that most affect them: unemployment, cost of living, affordable housing and the NHS? It’s not about the parties creating manifestos; it’s about young people influencing policy from the bottom-up. But how? Initiatives like UK Youth Parliament and the National Youth Agency provide a fantastic platform for young people to voice their concerns on things that most affect them.
Young people need to take action. If we want to change politics, we need to get more involved not just in the general election, but at the local level too. We need to take a stand. If we don’t start voting now, we’ll be in our mid-40s and still have no idea of just how powerful we can be in shaping the politics in this country. If the reason you’re not voting is because you are confused about politics in the UK, you need to get to know! There is no excuse in this day and age – you can learn about politics from the comfort of your own home through online courses like the free one offered by Filtered.
We as a nation need you to arise and awake so you aren’t left ignored this general election.