I was always dubious about writing about politics on my blog. I always saw my own blog as an escape from some of the not-so-pleasant things in life, despite the fact I adored fellow bloggers raising and talking about important issues. I guess in a way I was uncomfortable talking about controversial things, although in person and on social media I’m okay with it, articulating myself properly and in a good way just felt so difficult. So I left it, and thought my blog clearly isn’t made for that sort of thing. However, as I am writing this, a new general election has been announced. In the wake of Brexit, and an unelected PM, it was decided that one was required to push on. Although you and I may have varying views about this, one thing is certain, we need to act.
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Most bloggers are within the age range of 18-25, (although you 30+ bloggers, you guys are fabulous! Just speaking of the majority here) that’s also the age range where the least people turn up to vote. Why? Lack of education, effort and how it is viewed is why. People are scared of people knowing and judging what they vote for, or do not know what to vote for and believe they do not have the time, and thus they do not make the effort. They would rather bury their heads than deal with the issue. Believe it or not, I am not slating people, as in many situations I act in the same manner, just not with politics as I’ve always been interested from a young age, as naturally wishing to learn more about the world’s history, I learned about politics. For others, it did not come as naturally. This is okay. What is not okay is getting extremely upset about the status quo and doing nothing about it.
“But one vote will not change anything” “Even if a particular party gains many votes, they might not get the seats as a result of the system”. You know what? It still matters. Yes I said it. Although you may not directly impact who is your MP, once the votes are counted, it is clear for everyone to see what people want. Look at it this way: Even if one particular party is set to win by a landslide, the others can still play a huge role. A coalition could arise, and all of the other parties are aware of that possibility. Vote for what you believe in, parties will have to work together. Your vote does not just equal MPs in parliament, the votes also indicate the views of those in the country and that can still heavily influence who is in power. If a party gains a majority but sees overwhelming support on a certain issue (or another party) they will bend to keep people content (to a certain extent). For instance, the current Prime Minister Theresa May was a supporter of the remain side during the EU referendum. What happened when more people voted for the leave side? She not only said she would support their choice and go through with it, but she completely changed tact and became a strong supporter of ‘hard Brexit’ (the extreme side of the leave campaign). Politicians have and will bend to the public’s will to either gain power or keep it. Meaning even if who you vote for does not ‘gain power’ they certainly will influence who is in power. Furthermore, even if my sort of party (I’m currently a floating voter) was in power, I would want a strong opposition to keep them to account.
Also, another thing to raise regarding young voters. We moan about not being represented in the government’s decisions, but why should politicians care if the majority of us aren’t voting? There are no stakes, and clearly, no risk of us voting out a government out for doing bad things to us, so they will just carry on. Which is why regardless of which party you vote for, I would like you to vote. The more of us that do, the more politicians will want to please us, rather than tear us down. So after my little rant about why you should vote, here’s how to vote, and how you should inform your choice:
HOW TO VOTE AND HOW TO DECIDE
Firstly check if you are registered to vote with your local council, find the contact details of yours by entering your postcode on this site: https://www.yourvotematters.co.uk
Secondly, if you are not registered, register to vote ASAP. It’s so easy to put things off and forget about it, then it will be far too late when you want to. It only takes five minutes and can be done online here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Remember even if you do not know who you are voting for or even if you are going to vote at all, you can decide later. So register anyway.
In regards to forming your choice, there are a few things I recommend:
Firstly see which party’s policies you agree with the most at voteforpolicies.org.uk . With this, you’ll be avoiding all of the bias from the media, and even your peers.
This is based upon manifestos (the documents that parties publish before a GE explaining what they want to do). Which should be taken with a grain of salt. Why? Parties often state things in their manifesto that do not happen. Either because circumstances change, or…they lied. This is extremely common with all parties. So make sure to fact check the policies you agree with the most, and see if previous similar policies have actually been enacted or if it’s a policy that is simply in the manifesto to gain votes. Also see if parties have actually acted on these issues in the past, see their standing.
Secondly look at the voting record of significant figures in the parties and your MP. Just type their names in at theyworkforyou.com and publicwhip.org.uk . If you disagree or agree with their records, this should influence your decision.
Thirdly, I encourage you to stay educated during the period from now up until the election. Watch the news, read newspapers, but be aware of media bias and be aware of who funds and writes each publication. Follow politicians on twitter. Be aware of the debates, and follow people of all political persuasions. Look at what other countries are saying too. Try and learn as much as you can about the situation, then when you vote, you’ll be more confident you made the right decision. Rather than vote for something, then google what it all means after.
Fourthly, check out Voting Counts if you are new to this whole thing or want advice. It is a charity that is a simple, unbiased political resource that helps you make informed decisions when voting.
It aims to help people understand who and what they are voting for, and uses simple language to decode politics and make it more digestible. I was kindly sent a guide which you can see featured in the photos of this post, it breaks down why you should vote, how you can vote and simplifies all the jargon you might not know with a glossary. Rachael is the young lady behind the whole thing, and honestly, she’s doing a fabulous job, so even if you believe you are all ‘clued up’, please promote this charity on your social media channels and blog if you too care about the lack of young voters. We can really change things and impact the current status quo and if you’re worried about sending the wrong message, Rachael’s site Voting Counts is a great place to send people!
Link to Voting Counts website: http://votingcounts.org.uk
Link to my blog post on Voting Counts on why politics affects me: http://votingcounts.org.uk/im-sophie-and-politics-affects-me
I hope this blog post has motivated you either to go educate yourself and register or to encourage those around you who aren’t planning to vote to do so! We can make a real change this time round if we put our minds to it. Remember young people will only receive little in return if little vote.