Community: Real Life

Why voting is important

William, 24, thinks young people should - and will - vote.


I think it's important to vote because of the great amount of power politicians have - particularly the control they have over the institutions of everyday life: education, health, policing and social services. A general election is the public's big chance to change how those institutions are run.

For people in their 20s, I think employment and student debt are the main issues. Everyone I know is affected by these and never in a good way. I think a lot of young people are fed up with being on a cycle of education, (unpaid) work experience and temping/short-term contracts.

Politics and young people

I've voted at every single general election since I was 18 and in most of the local ones, too. I've always voted for the Labour Party, as I'm left-wing and they're the traditional party of the left. In this general election, I'll be voting for Frank Dobson, who's been the Labour MP for Holborn & St Pancras for a long time. I looked at his voting record; he's tried to stop some of the worst excesses of New Labour, such as the Iraq war and foundation hospitals. So my vote will be for him personally, rather than because I want see Gordon Brown continue as Prime Minister.

Most of my friends plan to vote and follow the election coverage. I think generally young people see the importance of voting, but not in following politics on an everyday basis. Why would you when the media's political coverage is based around gossip and forcing people into making 'gaffes'. It can become fairly tedious.

I think people see the importance of voting, but not in following politics on an everyday basis.

A lot of young people express their political views on Facebook and YouTube - older people might be surprised at the amount of politics on these sites. However, I, personally, can only think of two people who've done any kind of work for the main political parties, and I'm not sure they're even members. I guess it's hard to see what the point of being a member of a political party is. Can you think of a time when one of the parties adopted a policy because the membership thought it would be a good idea? You're just there to hand out leaflets at election time.

Most of the people I know are active in politics outside Parliament - anti-war, helping asylum seekers, green politics. I think people see the advantages in working outside the system and at a local level, where they can make a real difference - even in a small way.

Our political system

I don't think the current political system is working for two reasons. Firstly, the 'first-past-the-post' system, which has always been un-representative, won't be able to survive past this election. The three main parties will get similar shares of the vote, but one - probably the Lib Dems - will get a smaller number of seats compared to the other two. I think that will make people very angry. In such a close race their votes will be ignored and the same faces will continue at the top. Secondly, the SNP will go for a vote on Scottish independence in the next five years, and have a good chance of winning. The idea of a 'British' Parliament is over. Eventually, English politicians will be forced to re-think the whole set up.

I don't really think Britain is still a major player on the world stage - we certainly can't afford to be now. I think in the eyes of other countries we looked fairly stupid following the Americans into Iraq and Afghanistan. Everyone knew they didn't need us and would've done it without us. Neither war was of any clear benefit to anyone at home; trying to maintain influence or prestige isn't worth that number of lives. We should be happy to be an important member of the European Union and focus our international energy there. It suits France, Germany and Spain, so why not us?

Interviewed by Phoebe Frangoul

Updated: 06/05/2010

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