Why you will engage in politics – because of money
It’s all about the money…
As you may have noticed there is an election this year.
Cameron, Miliband and the others will spew forth enticing sound-bites like “Save the NHS”, “Cut the deficit”, or “Bring Britain Back”. Their flabby faces will be seen on TV, newspapers, posters and the Internet more than ever before. They will try, with gut wrenching false sincerity, to appeal to the student vote. We’re apolitical – apparently – and need to be persuaded otherwise. Why do you think so many people saw Russell Brand at the Union?
Until this summer I was as politically apathetic as the establishment expected. I passed off the chance to vote in all elections, be they JCR, council or police commissioner. I thought all the parties were the same and my vote wouldn’t make too much difference. At gunpoint I’d have voted Tory because my parents do.
This stasis would have continued if it were not for one thing I did every month this summer: pay tax.
Looking at my paycheque, I couldn’t help but notice the significant portion of the money I had earned that was creamed off by HMRC for their use. For those three months this summer I was a contributor to the state rather than a beneficiary. It was almost a coming of age; a political puberty, forcing me to confront important adult issues. Opinions sprouted in awkward places
But why such a change?
To put it simply the government is now spending my money. The money I worked hard to earn.
My money now, in part, pays for a child’s healthcare and tuition, or benefits for the sick and unemployed. My money is paying for MP’s expenses claims. My money is wasted by mothballed projects and corruption.
Nothing makes people more engaged than participation. Up until summer this had been a choice. For most of us it still is.
Paying tax has ripped the covers off and woken me up to the importance of politics. Now I will vote with my money in mind, rather than because of some belief in an ideology.
Many people reading this will have never paid income tax, but you more than likely will by the time the next election comes along. By then there may have been several years of your contributions being squandered on MPs’ pedicures or an NHS scheme that went wrong.
If you are not engaged now, you will by the time the Chancellor gets his or her dirty hands on your twenty pound notes – but it’ll be too late.
Don’t let the chance to determine how tax – your hard earned cash – is used slip through your fingers. Vote for a party that you think best spends it.
If you think spending more on healthcare than defence is important, vote for that party. If you think the government should spend less of your money, vote for that party. If you think the government should spend more on the poor or students, vote for that party.
In the end, money – your money – is what keeps governments afloat, maintains peace and allows you to live your lives comfortably. Don’t get distracted by politicians rhetoric, their “strong feelings”, their “commitments” or “outrage”, look at the nuts and bolts of their manifestos and decide whether you believe them. Whichever party is voted into government, you will pay for their policies. Be they idiotic or sensible, you will foot the bill.
Just think of that when you go to the ballot box. I know tax is boring, but paying it will be the most politically engaging thing you will do.
I hope I am telling you the obvious here, but it wasn’t to me a year ago. I thought political engagement, like an awkward conversation with my parents, was avoidable.
In fact it is like tax.