The Problem with the Upcoming Election
People don’t know who to vote for and just end up voting for whoever all their friends are choosing.
I spent my entire childhood growing up in East London, only very recently moving out to Brighton for university. Although seeming irrelevant it has meant that I have always been surrounded by Labour supporters, many of the older members of my family have blindly supported Labour for years, voting for the party in every election without looking at the policies they have had to offer or anything any other parties have stated.
The majority of London comes out Labour in most general elections, my politics teacher had always said to me that London was a collection of safe seats for the Labour party.
I don’t particularly have a problem with the Labour party and although I am undecided in who I will be voting for in the upcoming election it feels as if I have a lingering sense of commitment to the Labour party for no apparent reason. Many people feel as if they are in a similar position to me, feeling as if because their family always blindly voted Labour it would feel as if it would be betraying them to vote for another party.
This is an issue with many people all over the country for different parties. For many young people including me, this will be the first opportunity to head to a polling station and cast a vote. However due to the heavy sense of political uncertainty, so many of these voters with be easily influenced by either their parents or peers and not vote based on their own opinion.
I am well aware that this is already an issue in every election, people don’t know who to vote for and just end up voting for whoever all their friends are choosing. But I have a feeling that this will be on a much larger scale than ever before.
Young people feel as disconnected as ever and Labour’s attempt to engage them with these new policies catered to generation z, free bus travel for those under 25 and abolishment of tuition fees, have barely enticed them but are instead populist attempts to suddenly involve a group of uninterested youngsters, but that’s a discussion for another day.
18–25-year olds have always had some of the lowest turnouts in general election history and this is something which I’m sure me along with many others in my age group would like to tackle. However, the pressure being put on people who have never been interested in politics before to vote has meant that many people feel as if they have to show up on polling day and will cross a box based on someone else’s opinion.
This issue may be resolved when campaigning goes harder as we close in on the election, people will be able to hear what each party leader has to say and what each party is proposing for themselves, but personally I doubt it.
It feels like I repeat myself while writing these articles when speaking about what the solution to the problem is, but realistically the only way to avoid political disengagement and people voting for parties they have no clue about is to educate those around you.
Whether in general conversation or through debate and argument, I think the best thing to do is to talk. Many people shy away from talking about politics in fear that it will ruin the atmosphere of a situation or even more extreme, ruin relationships with the people you discuss it with. But the only way to make sure someone is informed regarding politics is to inform them yourselves in a non-patronising way.
Me and my boyfriend have come from very different backgrounds and therefore have different predispositions towards what political party to vote for based heavily on what parties our parents voted for. In basic terms he’s a Tory and I’m far from it.
When I asked him about why he would vote for the conservative party he didn’t have much of an answer for me, he — like me — has never voted in a general election before and — unlike me — is not too interested in politics. All it took was a conversation about why I wouldn’t vote for the conservative party to encourage him to broaden his perspective and feel a little more engaged with politics.
Many politically focused conversations later he said to me in the car this morning — whether a joke or not — that everyone needed to ‘Vote Labour so that the railways would be nationalised’. The drastic jump from clear political apathy to actual educated statements regarding policies in a little less than a few weeks shows that all some people need is some encouragement through discussion.