The Importance of Voting.

Fed up of the election cycle yet? Yup, me too. At this point in the campaigning, the only guarantees are that 95% of the politician’s promises won’t be realised come […]


Fed up of the election cycle yet? Yup, me too. At this point in the campaigning, the only guarantees are that 95% of the politician’s promises won’t be realised come May 8th, and that the Conservatives will still be blaming it all on the previous incumbents.

But if we allow this humdrum blame game to engender a more apathetic mindset, well – nothing’ll ever change. Yes, I’m totally aware that the vast majority of the students that’ll read this couldn’t care less.  I’d quite like to change that though, because we, the yoofs, should be getting entirely fed up of being completely boned by the political system.

Polling stationThe next two weeks will see the media washing machine turn their spin cycle up to “fuckin’ intense”, to the extent that on May 7th we’ll all be sick and tired of Farage’s shit-eating “pint swilling man-of-the-people-but-only-the-right-coloured-ones” schtick, Ed “Brotherfucker” Miliband, Cameron’s insistence that it’s all Labour’s fault anyway and Clegg’s false promises. Don’t forget the SNP, with Nicola Sturgeon the current belle of the ball – I think she’s been talking about the end of austerity, but I’ve been too distracted by the raw sexuality dripping from every syllable to process the content.

Today though, is the last day you can register to vote. If you haven’t already, I implore you to do so here. It’s imperative that you engage in the day to day operations of your country, that you choose the individuals who will represent your interests, both inside the Westminster bubble and on the international stage.  And it matters, because although the whole media circus is going to wear you down, although each party will dredge up ancient sins, our generation’s apathy contributes to the whole mess.

Politics is not representative of our beliefs, partially due to our inability to make significant contributions to the economy (somehow rendering our opinions entirely irrelevant) but mostly because we don’t give it a chance to. The facts are there – 44% of 18-25 year olds voted in the 2010 election, compared to 76% of the over 65s. If those in charge of creating the manifestos know that the active electorate is older, they’ll target policies to attract their votes. Tuition fees tripled, landing every single prospective student seeking to “better” their employment prospects in the proverbial. I’d love to see if any readers can name one single policy enacted in the last twenty years that had similarly titanic repercussions on demographics politicians believed might later be key in their reelection. I know, I’m struggling.

If you don’t want to vote, if you simply can’t motivate yourself to care, well – that’s your choice. But not voting is a tremendous waste of an opportunity your ancestors were never afforded, an opportunity that Emily Davison threw herself under a horse for. Look at Hong Kong – a safe and affluent city state, placing fifteenth worldwide on the Human Development Index. Yet one hundred thousand plus, mostly students, flooded the streets last year to campaign for democratic elections free from Chinese influence – while voting should be an inalienable right, it is a privilege in much of the world, and to take it for granted does the nation and yourself a disservice. And if you don’t vote, you certainly don’t have the right to complain about the actions of the elected government, because you chose not to influence it yourself.

Yes, choosing between the mainstream political parties in their current format feels a lot like receiving an unannounced knock at the door from a slimy sycophant in an expensive suit; “Good news, sir! We’ve decided to raze your home to the foundations, but please do take thirty seconds to decide on our methods.  Don’t we just have your best interests at heart?”. Oh, and the kicker? The reptilian villain’s already got a bill prepared and the payment plan looks suspiciously like the rest of your working lives. It’s easy to feel disillusioned, disenfranchised. But refuse to adapt to the political system in its current form, and it certainly won’t adapt to fit your utopian fantasies of a truly representative Parliament.

The only legitimate reason I can see not to vote is the dated electoral system we rely on – First Past the Post. In some areas, it can make your vote pointless – my home constituency sees a 60% Conservative majority, so should I choose to vote for someone else, well, it’s futile. But I still vote, because however irrelevant it may become, I am participating – and to have the temerity to say that the political system isn’t good enough to merit my involvement is mere arrogance. It’s the only system we have, and it won’t change from the outside.

It cannot change without your involvement. Since the dawn of democracy on this island nation, British political reform has been conducted at a sedate pace  – but it gets there in the end. It took over a century for sustained campaigns for reform to entirely overcome fierce parliamentary opposition and gain universal enfranchisement. Progress will be slow. The fiercely intensifying media furore over the next two weeks might serve to turn you away from politics, the focus on personality over policy will only reinforce that.

But if come May 7th, you’ve not voted, what right have you to complain? This isn’t the institutionalised joke that is student politics, this is the real fucking deal. If you want to engender real, tangible political change your vote matters. It’s that, or continue duping yourself into thinking Russell Brand’s going to lead a glorious putsch into Westminster.

Register to vote here. Tell me why you’re not voting below, because I’m a keyboard warrior at heart.