Welcome to the Backbench Election HUB! At the time of writing, there are 96 days, 9 hours, 48 minutes, and 41 (40…, 39…., 38…) seconds until polls open on 7 May 2015, for the 55th General Election since the co-option the members of parliament of Great Britain and Ireland in 1801.
In more recent history, technological advancements, constitutional shifts, and post-crisis fallouts have revolutionised the political landscape. Involvement in politics is easier, more accessible, and more instant than ever before - anyone with a Twitter account can be plugged into politics of all kinds at all levels. In spite of these developments, the political doors can still seem shut to many.
Only 23% of MPs are female, versus 51% of the general population. There are only 27 MPs of BME origin, whereas to be representative there would need to be 55-60 BME MPs. There would need to be 65 disabled MPs to be representative of the number of disabled people in the population, but there are currently only a handful. That’s not even to mention the number of privately-educated MPs, or those drawn from a select handful of elite Universities.
Bring in the fact that at the last election only 51.8% of 18-24 year-olds went to the polls to vote, versus 74.7% of over 65 year-olds, and we have a skewed system, run by the male, the privately-educated, the able-bodied, and the white for the benefit of those most likely to vote - older people.
What can we do about it? This is set to be the most exciting General Election in a generation. Polls have the two main parties neck-and-neck, whilst changes in voter tendencies have blown the system wide open to an extent where the notion of a seven-party televised debate isn’t actually that extraordinary. As the mantra of the 2012 Olympic Games ran, now is the time to “inspire a generation.” If we can’t convince people, and young people in particular, that politics is something to get excited about - something to dig your teeth into and really sit up and pay attention to - then we will have failed.
So that’s what we’ll be trying to do over the next 96 days, 9 hours, 29 minutes, and 14 (13…, 12…, 11…) seconds. With our weekly updates for subscribers, real-time poll coverage, and a mixture of light-hearted and serious analytical pieces, we’ll be attempting the impossible and yet entirely logical: to get young people excited about the way their entire future is being decided and shaped before their very ballot boxes.
Seems like a reasonable goal to me. Stick with us - it’s going to be a bumpy ride.