In a post-Brexit world, one thing is clear: voting makes a difference. Last summer’s shock result, with the majority of the British population voting to leave the EU, was only the start of a tumultuous 2016. In November, Donald Trump was elected president of the United States, again leaving rational thinkers dumbfounded. However, the message is clear: as long as the people have the vote, anything is possible.
With that in mind, we look ahead to the 8th June, when the outcome of the general election will be in our hands. The snap election took us all by surprise, but it is possible to turn this thing around. The election does not have to necessarily lead to a Tory landslide, and it is well within our means to cooperate to reverse some of the damage of 2016. To add to this, the fact that 18-25-year-old voters had the lowest turnout rate during the EU referendum, with only 36% participation (compared to that of 65+ voters with 83% turnout), indicates that we are partially to blame for Brexit. The irony is the 65+ population are unlikely to ever feel the repercussions of their vote. In contrast, the 18-25-year-old population bracket have had their future in the EU decided for them, largely without their consent. Undoubtedly, our age group cannot make the same mistake again for the upcoming general election. We must ensure that we register and turn up to vote on the 8th June, to make our mark.
In the West End bubble, it is easy to forget that not all young people are as engrossed in politics as most of our friends in Beer Bar are after a pint or two. The reality is that politics is a confusing and intimidating area of life for many young people. Therefore, it is our duty to change that – we need to make politics the norm, to make it as talked about as the Premier League and as accessible as Facebook, rather than it being dismissed as an off-limits, controversial topic, which is prohibited at the dinner table. How, you ask? By relentlessly keep the conversation alive, at university and at home, with family, friends and colleagues – strangers if you want! However, with the general election less than a month away, without actually going to vote, these vital conversations and passions will never spark the fire of revolution.
We are lucky enough to live in a democratic country where we are allowed to call out politicians we dislike and raise up those we admire. We must not take this privilege for granted, as doing so would be an insult to young people who are less fortunate than ourselves, living under fascist dictatorships in foreign countries. Also, closer to home, many young people in the UK have parents who are not politically aware and haven’t had the opportunities to advance their own ideas and opinions on how to make a change. So our vote is not just for ourselves, but for the greater good – regardless of who you vote for.
Arguably, it is even more imperative that women vote, because of the hard-fought struggle for universal suffrage in the early twentieth century. It is not an exaggeration to say that women gave up their lives so that other women could reap the benefits, which are still felt today, almost 100 years later. Therefore, to my fellow sisters – mark that ballot for the sheer joy of being able to vote.
Joy is something we can all experience on the 8th June – as the ability to vote means the ability to exercise a human right, participate in the selection of a leader to represent us on the global stage and ultimately, feel powerful as an individual. Who needs more reason than that?
REGISTER TO VOTE BY MIDNIGHT 22nd MAY! It will take you less than 5 minutes.
– Isabelle Thornton