If you live in the UK I'm sure you're WELL aware that there is an up and coming election in just a few weeks time, I wanted to share with you my personal view of what I thought about the whole thing!
I’ll be honest, before March this year I didn’t really understand or care about politics – shameful I know! I thought all politicians were the same and that none of them seemed to do anything, so thought that voting seemed pretty pointless.
I spoke to friends and family about the upcoming election and it was soon apparent that a lot of first time voters like myself have so many unanswered questions and things we just do not understand: why do we have to vote for ‘seats’? Why can’t we just vote for the parties as opposed to a local MP? Why is voting for some parties a ‘wasted’ vote?
A fair few people said they wouldn’t vote at all this year – me being one of them – and the main reason was simply because they just didn’t understand how the system worked. It’s also evident that not many people actually trust MP’s due to deceit and lies in the past from the members of parliament. One infamous example being Nick Clegg pledging to oppose any university tuition fees before the 2010 election and then being one of the MP’s to support the proposals to raise the tuition fee up to £9,000 a year.
Political jargon is another reason I was never really interested in politics, I didn’t understand what was being said so I became bored and disengaged – a feeling I’m sure many have experienced. However, I have decided that I will vote this year because when you consider that people had to fight and protest for women to be able to vote in this country, and that people in other parts of the World don’t have the right to choose their leader democratically, it’s almost a waste not to vote.
Whilst researching parties and their manifesto promises, it became obvious that a popular pledge was to lower the voting age to 16 and 17 year olds. This very much surprised me after my experience with politics – or lack of it. It’s something that has been debated over the years but after the Scottish Referendum where 16 year olds could vote, it is now something that could become a reality before the next election.
A poignant point for lowering the voting age, was the fact that a sixteen year old can join the Armed Forces and make the commitment and brave decision to fight and serve their country but is not currently allowed to vote for matters which could directly affect them.
Speaking in the Scottish parliament Mr Salmond said 16 and 17 year olds had shown themselves to be "serious, passionate and committed citizens" in the referendum. Labour leader Ed Miliband also addressed the issue, saying that it was “time to hear the voice of young people in our politics."
However, it was pointed out by Philip Cowley, a professor of parliamentary government at the University of Nottingham, that people should be very wary of trying to draw lessons from the Scottish referendum, saying "What we had in Scotland was very high-octane, very simple, an existential system where the stakes were incredibly high on both sides. You don't get that in general elections," he says. It is doubtful as to whether 16 and 17 year olds would vote in the mass they did in the Scottish Referendum in a UK general election where turnout is normally only about 60% anyway.
Like all things in life, in this election anything could happen so it’s worth considering what you would and wouldn’t like to happen in the World of politics and vote accordingly – if your age permits it!