In the last General Election less than half of 18 to 24 year olds voted. From the perspective of a young person, this is not particularly surprising. It’s easy for young people to feel disillusioned with the voting system and politics in general. This lack of action definitely does not equate to a lack of thought or care about current affairs. Indeed, any claim that today’s generation of young people is ignorant or apathetic is simply untrue.
Looking back at my school days, it was common for pupils to view politics as a boring, adult topic, irrelevant to young people. This is something which needs to be fixed by education. Young people need to be taught that politics impacts all areas of everyone’s life, whether social, cultural, academic, economic, domestic and so on. Politics permeates everything. When I was younger, my classmates and I were pretty oblivious to this. Many young people don’t realise that politics affects every single area of our lives and therefore is most definitely worth thinking and talking about.
As a result of this, for first time voters, it may be confusing knowing which party to vote for. In general, political parties don’t make their policies easily accessible and political broadcasting has become increasingly concerned with politician’s personas rather than the all-important policies themselves. Therefore compulsory, unbiased education concerning today’s political parties and their main policies – particularly those affecting young people – should also be included in the curriculum before students turn eighteen. This way, when young people become eligible to vote, they will already be empowered with all the information they need to make an informed vote.
Yet, despite the lack of education, young voters are still just as acutely aware as older people are that our one single vote doesn’t count for an awful lot. Particularly if you live in a constituency in which a certain party dominates, voting outside of the box may be viewed as somewhat futile. This is yet another factor that may be putting young people off voting. Many also distrust politicians and feel as if none of the parties can offer them anything of value. And who can blame them? What with the awful job market, risen house prices and extortionate tuition fees; there’s not an awful lot being done to improve young people’s prospects.
However, simply not voting does nothing to solve these problems. It is not an effective protest. It is simply a waste of the voice we do possess. It’s our responsibility to make up for the lack of political education in schools by educating ourselves on political policies and using our vote wisely. Particularly because arguably it is young people who need to vote the most as the policies we vote for are going to directly impact our futures. We must fight the misconception that politics doesn’t concern young people. Our votes will dictate our future so it’s safe to say that politics does very much concern us. Besides, we must act now before politicians start sending embarrassing colourful buses to universities to find out what young people want and need – as if they don’t already know.