I wouldn’t normally discuss politics on this blog. As far as I’m concerned, my blog is my escape from all the bad things in the world, my little happy space of delicious food, sparkly make-up and pretty clothes.
However, the issue of low voter turnout, especially in the 18-24 age bracket I fall into, is such an important issue that I cannot afford to ignore it. If this post reminds or convinces just one person to register to vote, I feel as though this post is completely justified despite not really fitting in with my usual content.
The deadline for registering to vote in the General Election on May 7th is just five days away – if you haven’t registered by April 20th, you will not be able to vote. You can register online here, all you need to have to hand is your National Insurance number.
But why is it so important to vote?
Voting in the General Election is the most important thing you will do this year.
Your vote is your way of telling Parliament who you want to represent your views for the next five years. If you choose not to vote, or simply forget to register, you have no way of getting your opinion across to Parliament. If your voice is not represented, you won’t be encouraging any kind of change for the better.
Less than 100 years ago, all women and working class men were not deemed worthy of the right to vote. Voting was restricted to the men in the upper echelons of society. This was only changed in 1918, when working-class men over the age of 21 and women over the age of 30 were granted suffrage in the Representation of the People Act. In 1928, the right to vote was extended to all women over the age of 21 and in 1969, the voting age for both men and women was lowered to 18.
Although this is just my personal opinion, I believe it to be disrespectful to all those who fought for suffrage in history to simply refuse to vote now. 100 years ago I would not have been allowed to participate in democracy due to my age and gender, so I believe I have a duty to exercise my right to vote on behalf of all those who have been unable throughout history. Democracy is the cornerstone of British society, but it only truly works if everyone participates.
“I will never vote and I don’t think you should, either.”
– Russell Brand, New Statesman, 2013.
I find comments made by people such as Russell Brand distressing. I have been a fan of his comedy and his radio shows for years, but I cannot support a man who is attempting to discourage people from voting. It is infinitely better to spoil your ballot paper than to simply refuse to head down to your local polling station, and I shall explain why.
Spoiling your ballot paper, whether by scribbling all over it, marking an X in every box, or simply writing ‘I don’t like ANY of the candidates’ on it is your way of telling Parliament that you feel as though you are unrepresented in politics. If you simply refuse to vote, politicians will assume apathy. A spoiled ballot paper has the potential to make much more of a difference than one that doesn’t exist.
Although many young people feel as though politics doesn’t represent them, I would encourage them to give politicians a chance. Programmes such as Free Speech on BBC 3 and the televised debates encourage active participation of younger members of society, and many parties have policies aimed at younger people.
The most important thing to do in the lead-up to the election is to read the party manifestos. I cannot stress how important this is. Ignore the soundbites and the biased media representations of political parties, only YOU can judge which party is right for you, and the most accurate way of doing this is by reading the proposed policies of each party as set out in their manifesto. You can find the manifestos on the party websites, and you can find out which parties are running in your constituency here.
Hopefully, when you have read the party manifestos you will a better idea of who you would like to vote for. However, if you are still undecided, you could try doing an online political party quiz such as this one, which can help you decide which party agrees with your beliefs and views the most.
Please don’t forget to register, otherwise you won’t be allowed to vote on May 7th. Just in case you need the link again, here it is. Make sure your voice is heard!
(Oh, and normal glamorous service will be resumed in my next post on Saturday, which will be the second installment of my ‘Worth the Hype?’ series. Don’t forget to subscribe to Poppy alla Norma so you don’t miss it!)