Get off your lazy arse and vote
But not for UKIP. Voting today is your duty, says FRED COTTERILL.
I don’t expect many students will agree with the sub-Faragian, bigoted, petty Little Englandism of Callum Wood’s cretinous excuse for an article last week. You’d hope such a display might actually encourage students to get to the polls and vote to keep out a party that appeals to troglodytes like him. What particularly gets me is the faux-disappointment in the Coalition – the pious regret that Cameron and Clegg simply aren’t horrible enough to poor people and so Ukip is, sadly, the only option. You just know that inside he’s squealing with joy at the prospect of voting for Farage and his cronies – that the chance to vote for a really reactionary party is the best thing to happen to him since 1979.
So I’ll leave it to your good sense to ignore the substantive claims of his piece. But his assertion that “the European Parliament is essentially pointless” needs addressing. It’s the sort of lie that apologists for the powerful like to swing around in an effort to discredit democratic bodies.
Let’s not be so naïve as to think that this endless drip feed of apathy juice is some sort of public service announcement. I hate to break it to you, but these reactionaries don’t have your best interests at heart. Every time a student says they won’t vote on Thursday, Nigel Farage guffaws smugly and puts his feet up, because he knows he’s winning.
The truth is, without students voting, politicians of all parties will continue to disregard our interests. Since 2010, the government has abolished EMA, trebled fees, and slashed university funding. Meanwhile, in an alleged age of austerity, wealthy retired people have seen their pensions race ahead of inflation (unlike average wages), and their free bus passes, TV license and winter fuel payment protected. Could this be connected to the 70% higher voting rate among over-65s compared to under-25s? I’ll leave you to work that one out.
Make no mistake, the forces of conservatism are out to fool you.
Ukip and their Tory allies are set on making you believe that Thursday’s Euro and city elections are irrelevant – a sideshow fit only for hacks and protest votes. Students aren’t interested in how their city is run, they chant. Nobody cares about the European parliament, they sneer. All these politicians are the same, Farage greasily froths at you over his perfectly stage-managed pint of real-ale bullshit.
Nobody is claiming that the European Parliament will inspire great passions. But when it’s debating a Robin Hood tax, continent-wide regulation of banks, migration law reforms and a trade deal with the US that threatens the NHS with privatisation, it’s simply incoherent to think that what goes on in Europe is irrelevant. I know which side I’m on – if you think you’ve got a social conscience, not choosing really isn’t an option.
So you should vote on Thursday because it’s a poke in the eye for Ukip and the Tories. I was told not to make this a party political broadcast – a tall order for a Labour party hack like me – but I don’t think it’s enough to merely critique other parties without offering something positive. Read the manifestos. But let me say this: there’s one party running on a living wage, on affordable housing and on sharing Cambridge’s prosperity fairly. If that’s the sort of policy you can get behind, then it’s a vote for Labour. We might not be the option that’ll have people patting you on the back and gibbering platitudes about your principles, but by God we’ll get things done.
Yes, I know you’re busy with exams. Me too. But since when has “I’m too busy” been an excuse at Cambridge? You’d be doing it wrong if you didn’t have too many commitments – so take the half an hour it will require to read a bit about the parties, then get some fresh air by walking to the polling station. Congratulations, you’ve taken part in democracy, hindered the bigots and gained a new topic to argue over with your housemates. Apathy among students isn’t a historical law – as recently as 1964 there was no age-related turnout gap.
In the words of Josh Lyman: decisions are made by those who show up. Get to the polls and make your choice positively, or Ukip will make it for you.