You don’t find many young people interested in politics, unless you surround yourself with like-minded people. If you really think about it, how many of your friends share your interest in politics, probably not very many.
This is why we are not listened to, and although this doesn’t mean to say every politician neglects the young, political parties as a whole don’t really give us that much time. And why is this? It’s simply because we’re not voting, and this has got to change.
At the weekend, the prime minister announced his intent to make sure the state pension increases by at least 2.5% if his party wins the 2015 election. Yes, it’s right that those who have been working hard all of their lives and have been contributing to the tax system are able to live comfortably during their retirement. But, we all know one of the overriding principles behind this latest announcement; to get pensioners to vote for the Conservatives in 2015. After all, they are the group that are most likely to vote at a general election.
If pensioners were the least likely group to vote in an election, I wonder if David Cameron would still be determined to increase the state pension year on year.
I’m not suggesting that if every single young person voted in 2015 they would receive some miraculous tax break because politicians need to attract their vote. What I’m saying is if more of us do vote, then the three main political parties will have to pay more attention to us.
You hear it all the time from young people: ‘politics is boring, they don’t care about us’, a few don’t, but lots of politicians do. We, the ones that are passionate about politics need to do more to get our friends to vote. It’s no good at our age getting too entrenched in our parties and becoming tribal. We are the ones who should work together to engage our friends and classmates. Who are they more likely to listen to, a 40 year-old man telling them to vote, or a group of young people showing them that if they do vote more, then they are more likely to be listened to?
Lots of the political parties have their own youth wings which do great work in engaging young people in campaigns and causes. But are they doing enough to get young people to vote? In my opinion, no. It’s all well and good getting people to sign up to a party’s youth wing, but they are neglecting those who don’t want to join a party, even though they may be interested in voting.
That’s why I think if each party’s youth wing throws down its armour and sword and works together on a campaign to get more young people to vote, then all of our voices would be much louder, and would be heard.
I’m not proposing some hypothetical land here where all young people will visit the polling station hand-in-hand, yearning to vote. I’m merely suggesting an idea which will see our age group taken more seriously. We’re not all thugs on the street corner scaring old ladies. We’re an age group with ideas to share, with beliefs to spread and a voice that must be listened to. This voice, I believe, will have more attention paid to it if more of us vote.
By Joshua Godfrey