What do you think of politics? Uninteresting? Maybe you just don’t care. In the simplest terms, the parties could all seem the same to you. That could explain 40% turnout of 18-24 year olds in the 2015 general election. Year by year, voter turnout for 18-24 year olds have decreased, and while most students believe that not voting won’t affect them, through the years, support for UK students has been growing weaker. Tuition fees have soared. Grants have been cut. Housing benefit for unemployed 18-21 year olds have been cut, and while most people complain about how unfair the system is, we don’t pay attention to the fact that most people didn’t do anything about it when they could. Why? Apathy towards politics.
Anyone who enrolled into university until 2005, paid an annual tuition fee of £3000 and 8/10 universities offered bursaries. Just over 10 years ahead, the tuition fees have tripled, and bursaries have been cut. There’s no denying it. Support for the students are weakening, and voting turnout is decreasing. There isn’t a fair representation of our views, the government doesn’t hear our side. They see a decline in voting for one demographic and immediately think that we don’t care. And honestly, most of us don’t. The greatest threat to future generations lies on your apathy. Look at the 65+ turnout . They had a voting turnout of almost 80% in 2015 general election, and have remained consistent. Have you noticed that their benefits aren’t being cut? That their pension credit is still being given to them, 19 years on? That they don’t even have to pay TV license? Oh, and Freedom Passes on London Transport. They aren’t apathetic, they don’t let the government get away with any decline in service to the elderly, because they turn up to vote for the party that provides the best service to them. Labour’s manifesto for 2015 general election said that they will reduce the £9000 tuition fees to £6000 … but 60% didn’t vote at all, yet complain about the lack of funding into higher education. If those 60% had voted, who knows, maybe students wouldn’t be eating canned food and be financially crippled.
One thing to stress is that we need to truly believe that change is possible. We have to pull the wool away from our eyes and realise that we are citizens of this country too, and make a tiny but enormously significant difference to your life and the future generations. This generation needs to stand up and grasp the future. Instead of refreshing your Facebook feed, pick up a manifesto and choose your side. Voting is not an inconvenience nor is it a burden. It’s representing us.
Written by Sarah Begum, AS Politics student