Sunday, 27 July 2014

why young people don't vote

We're seen as the dregs of society. We all have bad attitudes, bad work ethic and don't care about what happens in our country. Our generation has possibly one of the worst reputations there has ever been for young people, with students especially, seen as idle gits whose fulfilment's come from desperately scrambling a couple of quid together to get down to the SU for a pint. Recent articles I've read such as this by Oliver Hughes from the Independent(which has a fantastic student section FYI), this by Emma Gannon on girllostinthecity, and by far the best Ted Talks video by Rick Edwards(below), where he truly talks so much sense - I urge you to watch this, you won't regret it.

All 3 of these have really struck a cord with me because honestly, I hadn't even thought a huge amount about it until I came to university, I just didn't really understand the political system or who I'm meant to vote for, and every time I had tried to learn more, I'd turn on Question Time to see a pathetic bunch of middle aged MPs arguing, going tit for tat over irrelevant topics.

Young people are not lazy, we just don't understand. Why don't we understand? Because we're ignored. Young people do care - we volunteer and campaign, we discuss and debate, but how are we supposed to vote in a system in which we have little faith in and in which politicians involved do not care. Why would we care when we aren't cared about?

Politicans look after their own - they look after the people who vote for them, the old. I'm not suddenly going young vs old, and I also don't think that the whole entire universe should revolve around us because we are fabulous and great and 'reem'. Young people are expected not to vote, so a few wishy washy promises are made, and broken(I'm looking directly at you Nick Clegg) and we are therefore hit the hardest. Student fees are inexplicably high, welfare benefits for under 25s have been dramatically reduced; the list goes on and on...and on.

So what do we do? Do we just not vote and let politicians merrily carry on 'representing' us, as citizens in a supposedly democratic society? Do we close our eyes and tick the box we're closest, (because lets face it, they're all as bad as each other) so we can say we are voting? Or do we demand a change?

We are living in 2014 and yet we cannot vote online. We bank, we insert our debit card details into hundreds of thousands of sites, yet someone in the Houses of Parliament says that it may be unsecure and may lead to fraud? REALLY? Rick Edwards states that in a survey he carried out on twitter, 75% of 18-35 yr olds would vote if it was possible to do it online. Seventy five percent. How significant could that be in the general elections.

Another issue that needs to be addressed is the fact that we actually don't know where to start. What party represents what, which policies will affect me in positive way - and this needs to be told to us in  a factual, straight forward manner - no political, wishy washy crap that no one either understands or believes. There is nowhere that can do this properly - because remember, young people don't care.

Until 1992, over 60% of 18-24 year olds voted in the general elections, by 2010 this had dropped to 44% and in the most recent European and local elections, a mere 34% turned out to vote. This will drop further and further if politicians continue to ignore us, continue to stereotype us to the media as lazy and careless, until none of us vote at all. And then our children won't vote, and neither will our grandchildren and then what happens? 

We have a voice and it should be heard.

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