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Representing you? Young people on the elections

Edition 3

Dr. Ed, a young Hip Hop artist, spoke to young people on who they’ll be voting for, if it all, and gives two cents on voter disengagement.

“The country is f*cked up enough as it is, no one’s gonna change anything.”

Luke, 20. According to an Ipsos Mori poll just 44% of 18-24 year olds voted in the 2010 general elections. By the sounds of it, Luke might be amongst the non voters this time around.

I’ve heard this opinion echoed amongst a lot of young people often, but not exclusively from those you might label as working class. It was a view which I held until recently. But last year’s Russell Brand- Jeremy Paxman spat, on whether we should vote or not, forced me to question my political stance (due, in no small way, to an urge to do the exact opposite of what celebrities advise).

I decided to speak to both friends and strangers to test the view that we as a country know very little about who we’re voting for (or not voting for), and what exactly they propose to do about it.03-13-young_voters-2

“I just think we need to get the Conservatives out ASAP, especially for people like myself (a graduate). They don’t care, they’re out for keeping the rich, rich and the poor, poor and I don’t think that’s right, in a reductive nutshell.” says Joe, 21.

This view wasn’t uncommon. Out of those I spoke to, most seemed to lean more towards Labour because they wanted to keep the Conservatives out.

Time and time again, it seemed that the voters I spoke to knew exactly who they were voting against and why, but not who they were voting for and why.

Some, like 19 year old Sasha said she’ll be supporting the Green Party mainly for their environmental policies. When asked why she’d be voting Green, Sasha said

“I haven’t actually looked into it but I talk a lot to my parents. I never ever agree with anything any of the other parties say so I’m gonna do some research. No idea if they have a chance of getting elected, again I need to look into it some more. I don’t know a lot about politics at all, I just have strong feelings about things, and I need to find the right party that represents me. I’m pretty sure Ed Miliband won’t be doing that, neither will David Cameron.”

Richie, 23, won’t be voting this time round;

“I voted before, but only cos I got told to vote. I voted Labour, but f*ck that now. Government is bullshit, really they don’t do nothing to help you and the policies are bullshit. I don’t even know who the f*ck David Cameron is, what the f*ck does he do for me.”

Similarly, Jay, 21, can’t see the point of getting down to the polling station for political and practical reasons;

“It’s just long and out of the way. If they made an app through which you could vote, everyone would do it because it would be easy. But they don’t want to give everyone a voice. In my 21 years, I’ve never noticed a tangible positive change due to the election of a new political party”.

03-13-young_voters-1In 2010, 44% of 18-24 year olds voted, and I’m not sure that the turnout will be much higher this time around. Disengagement with the system running our own lives seems to be rife, so what can be done about it?

People are quick to list proposals, saying for example that citizenship studies should be taught from Key Stage 2 to give young people a better understanding of the political system. Thing is, we can learn the processes of parliament and the rest of it, but what good is it if we don’t feel represented by the political parties seeking our vote?

Dr. Ed for the Bristol Cable

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