Politics and voting is a hot topic right now. Millions of people will be marching down to their local polling stations tomorrow to get their voices heard and have their say on who should be running the country for the next five years. In the run up to the election, dozens of charities are running their own campaigns on politics and getting people into politics. Not just to vote. But to get people interested in politics, discussing their local issues and trying to come up with solutions, holding their local politicians to account for the promises they make and those they fail to keep.
Politics can be a daunting topic to talk about. Jargon like backbench, shadow minister for x, manifesto and the like make politics hard to understand and hard to relate to. But politics to me isn’t just which party we vote for. Politics is weaved into the fabric of our everyday lives. It’s in our blood and in our minds all the time.
Whether you love the NHS or hate it, just having a view point on it is political. Whether you care about the environment or not, that’s political. Whether you want your local school to hand out less homework or your university to do away with dissertations, that’s politics.
For me personally, I vote because I have been in sectors where the people in charge directly affect my career. I used to work as part of a community organising charity which worked with local social society institutions to identify issues that they were affected by and work with local government to tackle those issues. We come up with specific things that we’d want the politicians to help us tackle and we hold them accountable. We thank them for their hard work and successes but challenge them on the things they’ve failed on.
I vote because I care about the future of our country. The young people of the country have reached an all time high in terms of dissatisfaction but an all time low in terms of the desire to vote. Lots of people feel like their vote doesn’t count. Lots don’t agree with any of the parties and feel like a vote for anyone would be a waste. In 2010, 10.7 million people voted for the Conservative party, 8.6 million for Labour, 6.8 million for the Liberal Democrats and 3.5 million for other parties. The number of people who didn’t vote was 15.9 million. Just imagine if all of those people voted one way or another. Imagine how different the last five years would have been, for better or worse.
In my jobs over the last few years I’ve worked directly with local councillors, MPs, ministers, young people, schools, churches, mosques, synagogues, youth groups etc. and approached politics in all different ways. Whether you prefer one party or the other, we’re all involved in politics. Politicians will represent those that vote for them. If the middle classes are the only ones that vote, they’re the only ones who will be represented. If the youth are the only ones who vote, they’ll be the only ones represented.
We all have the ability to vote, to make a difference and to have our voices heard. So on May 7, lets make sure that we use our voice and vote.