Kaisaniemenkatu 3, Helsinki, 1930s.

I turned 18 on the 25th of July last year. This means that the General Election (in the UK) in May 2015 will be the first time I’ve been able to vote. Due to when I turned 18 I couldn’t even vote in the European Election last year when most of my friends could (which was so frustrating by the way.)

I’m not going to tell you which party you should vote for, because I’m sure you can all make your own decisions on that. I’ve only become interested in politics in the last couple of years, probably because it just wasn’t something I had to think about up until then. Many have the attitude “my vote won’t make a difference so I won’t bother,” and after thinking about it a lot I’ve come to the decision that I disagree with that.

I don’t think I agree with the view that we shouldn’t vote. I can see the reasons for thinking this, and I actually agree with most of them, but I don’t think not voting will benefit young people, or change the system. In an ideal world UK voters would be given the option to tick a NOTA (None Of The Above) box, and be able to show their interest in politics without having to simply opt for the lesser of two evils when voting, but that hasn’t happened here yet.

Of the people eligible to vote in the 2010 General Election, the percentage of people aged 65+ who did was estimated at 74.7% whereas only 51.8% of 18-24 year olds voted. In the 2005 election only 38.2% of 18-24 year olds voted. Over the past 30 or so years the number of older people voting has been higher and more consistent than the number of younger people, which answers the question of why younger people are so underrepresented in politics. Maybe if the percentage of 18-24 year olds who voted in 2010 had been higher than 51.8%, politicians would have thought more about whether raising university tuition fees to £9,000 a year was a good idea. If young people aren’t voting, why focus on making policies affecting them?

If there’s no party that you feel represents your beliefs, or makes policies that you agree with, then don’t vote. I’m not saying people should give up their values and vote for the party they hate least. I’m saying I don’t think people should not vote purely on the principle that if enough people don’t vote the whole British Government system will change.

There are so many parties with such different views that there’s most likely at least one party’s views that you support.

Some links:

Website which you allows you to vote for policies without knowing which party or leader they belong to (this is so helpful)

Website similar to that above but less time consuming

The Leader’s Debate (itv)

Coalition (drama reenacting the forming of the 2010-2015 coalition government)

Nicole x