Opinion Piece by Alice Crossley
British politics has been turbulent, confusing and overwhelming over the last few years. It’s hard to recall a time where Brexit didn’t exist in our vocabulary and general elections only happened every five years.
The ability to find humour and entertainment in the darkest days of political mayhem renews faith in the trusty wit of the British and it has been an amusing time to be on Twitter. But it is important to match the memes with an awareness and understanding that will allow young people to design a future they look forward to existing in.
Whether you consider yourself a political activist or anarchist, support Labour or the Conservatives, on Thursday 12th December, cast your vote in the general election.
It’s time our generation takes control of our present and decides our future. Let your voice be heard.
But, why should you vote?
In 2019, voting might seem inconvenient. Perhaps you will have moved back from University and can’t be bothered to apply for a postal vote, or maybe you have a back-to-back meetings that Thursday and assume you’ll probably never make it to the ballot box.
But in 1913, Emily Davidson threw herself under the King’s horse at the races in a demonstration of her dedication to the suffragette movement, who were fighting for women’s right to vote. Davidson was prepared to sacrifice her life for women today to have the voice that she was not entitled to.
Every time you push voting to the bottom of your priority list, you’re forgetting the desperation these women felt to have their voices heard and their opinions matter. Voting is not just a right- it is a privilege.
More recently, the EU referendum left young people feeling underrepresented. Polls suggest that around 64% of registered young voters aged 18-24 turned up to vote, compared to 90% of over 65s. This means that, despite the fact that the referendum outcome will have a greater effect on the younger generation, it is people that potentially won’t endure the effects of that decision that have had more of a say in our future.
Young voters had the power to change this that time- we just didn’t turn up on the day.
Voting is one of the rare opportunities in a capitalist society in which most citizens have equal rights. Everyone has just one vote. Your vote holds as much weight and Britain’s top businessmen and people of all ages. The only way they have more influence is if you don’t register or vote.
Not only is voting a right and a privilege- it is a responsibility. Legal migrants across the United Kingdom whose work, finances and lifestyle are all affected by the British government are unable to vote in the UK since they don’t have citizenship. Imagine the powerless feeling of having no control over huge decisions set to dictate – at least – the next five years of your life.
On Thursday 12th December, you don’t just vote for yourself. You vote for these migrants, your younger siblings that aren’t of voting age, every child about to be born into our society and those physically unable to cast their vote. If you won’t do it for yourself, do it for them.
This year Greta Thunberg and countless school strikers across the globe have shown us you’re never too young to have a say in your future.
The government we elect will be the ones to take on the issues of Brexit and climate change; two things millennials and Gen Z have repeatedly shown their passion about. The government we choose will impact the society we grow up in; form relationships in; establish careers in; raise children in, and eventually leave to the generations after us.
Every registered voter has the opportunity to be an active part in writing the future. The only vote that doesn’t count is the one that isn’t cast.
Politics feels a bit like the grinch who stole Christmas this year and queuing up in town halls arguably isn’t all that festive. But stick on your worst Christmas jumper (there’s definitely a market for political Christmas jumpers this year), and head out to vote on Thursday December 12th!
The General Election is happening on Thursday 12th December, the deadline to register to vote (and for postal votes) is 26th November.
Register to vote: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Register for a postal vote: https://www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk#postal-voting
Register to vote by proxy: https://www.gov.uk/voting-in-the-uk#voting-by-proxy