Another General Election, how boring, nothing’s going to change, what’s the point? A staggering majority of us feel like this. A study of 1000 people by Nottingham Trent University revealed that 64% believed that the concerns of the youth were not being represented and only 21% believed political parties actually changed people’s lives for the better.
Only 44% of 18-24 voted in the 2010 General Election. This is alarming, 56% of young people constitute a large portion of the vote and yet here we are, the silent mass, disenfranchised, uninterested and underrepresented. Therefore I put forward that come May 7th if you do find yourself lost in political rhetoric and feeling disconnected, instead of abstaining from the vote you consider a ‘protest’ vote instead.
Won-Taek Kang defines protest voting as turning to a non-traditional party, ‘due to a lack of generally preferred alternative or in an effort to signal… disaffection’. What a protest vote can achieve then is a clear signal to the major parties that the electorate’s not happy and more specifically depending on which minor parties receive a significant increase in votes, which policies the people want addressed. What follows is an overview of three potential parties you could vote for in protest and what such a vote would tell the major parties about the political angst of the youth.
Take UKIP for example, voting for UKIP would convey a general sense of concern towards Britain’s membership of the EU amongst the youth voters. It would not necessarily encourage an exit but a more pro-active approach on the repatriation of political powers back to Westminster. Of course, there are other notable political concerns voting UKIP, it could convey include the increase in defence budget back to NATO suggested levels of 2% of the GDP. It could also show support for their aim to remove tuition fees for students studying specific STEM subjects.
On the other end of the spectrum, think about voting Green. A vote for the Green Party could convey support to the already growing anti-fracking campaign and a demand for renewable energy alternatives. Other political concerns a vote for the Greens could convey include the increase of the minimum wage to £10 an hour, as well as the complete scrapping of tuition fees.
Although it’s hard to say if UKIP and Green really are protest votes, with a lot of genuine support behind the two parties. Perhaps a vote for the Monster Raving Looney Party is your best bet? Obviously, the Monster Raving Looney Party isn’t a serious political entity, but really try and comprehend the party. If 56% of us aren’t voting, and only 21% of us believe in the positive effects of our current political system then the Monster Raving Looney Party sums up what many of us are thinking. The current political system is completely out of touch. Indeed by abstaining from the vote I’d argue you’re tacitly voting Monster Raving Looney Party. A vote for the Monster Raving Looney Party would send a clear message to the political establishment; the youth feel left out and don’t rate the current performance of the major parties. While their policies provide for a quick laugh, the reality of what they stand for and the failures of the current establishment are a sobering wake up call.
A protest vote then can be a powerful tool. Come May 7th weigh the pros and cons of a protest vote with not voting at all, and let your voices be heard.