Shame on You

Young people are shocking at turning up to vote. Quite frankly there are no valid excuses bar death so I’m going to tell you why you’re letting yourself and everyone down if you don’t rock up to the polling station. 
Let’s start with the hunky dory story of the EU referendum last year: it was initially reported that only 36% of young registered voters turned up to the polls for the most important referendum of our lifetime, however an LSE led study suggests it was more like 64% (still I ask where were the other third?). The heartbreaking fact is that according to YouGov, 71% of young voters opted to remain, the largest percentage out of all voting demographics. Essentially that means if more young people had turned up to vote, Brexit may have been buried in 2016. Now, the generation most in favour of the EU must disproportionately deal with the fallout: surely that should teach you the importance of swinging a vote. 

The fact that few young people turn up to vote means we are the most under represented age demographic at the polling station. Logically, that means key election campaigns often forget us, because we’re unreliable and unmotivated. If we are the small fish then pensioners are the piranhas that politicians battle for. It’s not rocket science, historically pensioners always come out in force on Election Day, meaning political parties (particularly the Conservatives) deliberately target this demographic with persuasive policy benefits. For example, the triple lock on the state pension brought in in 2011 guarantees that pensions will rise annually by 2.5%, the rate of inflation or the average growth in earnings, dependent on which is highest. The Institute for Fiscal Studies recently stated in a report that “Between April 2010 and April 2016 the value of the state pension has been increased by 22.2%, compared to growth in earnings of 7.6% and growth in prices of 12.3% over the same period”, meaning pensions are rising much quicker than the average worker’s wage. 

Considering this information, I implore you to vote so that millennials don’t get left out again: pensioners rightfully look after their interests and we need to look after ours by not relying on other members of the public to do it for us. Fed up of rising tuition fees, growing inequality, a broken education system? Well make our age group an attractive voting demographic. If you don’t vote, you don’t matter. 

And yes, I agree, choosing between Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn is like choosing between a rock and a hard place but chickening out of a decision is much worse. By abstaining from voting you remove yourself completely from democracy and thus the political conversation that like it or not, will govern your life. If you don’t vote you have no right to complain or contest government policy as you have actively removed yourself from your rights as a citizen. Basically, don’t you dare moan about politics you hypocrite; instead, include yourself in the debate and have your voice heard.

We often take our democratic rights for granted, but the bottom line is they stand on a precipice and it is our responsibility to protect them. Democracy and decisions might feel like ‘effort’ and ‘hard work’, but remember there are still people today being killed for demanding one of their fundamental human rights. Ever get bored of these tricky decisions? Just think about having no freedom of speech, living in fear of torture and having no political right to your own body, for example. Let’s show some respect to the men and women who sacrificed everything to grant us the liberties we don’t even have the decency to appreciate.

With a general election coming up, now is the perfect time to register to vote AND vote properly on 8th June (e.g. don’t deface your ballot you fool). 

If you’re abroad you can vote by proxy (have another person vote for you) or do a postal vote (send off an early ballot paper from wherever you are in the world). I managed to arrange a vote by proxy whilst abroad so no excuses. 

Remember, no one is above voting. Show the country young people care about their future. 
Register to vote by 22nd May: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote?gclid=CLX9hcKV99MCFRHhGwodKBEKhg

Apply to vote by proxy: https://www.gov.uk/apply-vote-proxy 

Apply for a postal vote: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apply-for-a-postal-vote

Statistics and information in this piece came from the following websites: 

https://fullfact.org/europe/young-voters-and-eu-referendum/ for some of the statistics in this piece. 

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/09/young-people-referendum-turnout-brexit-twice-as-high

https://yougov.co.uk/news/2016/06/27/how-britain-voted/

https://www.theguardian.com/money/2017/apr/27/pensions-triple-lock-questions-answered

https://www.ifs.org.uk/publications/8942
The feature image is of ‘There Will Be No Miracles Here’ by Nathan Coley, Museum of Modern Art, Edinburgh 

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