Your vote, your voice

Following Prime Minister Theresa May’s decision to hold a snap election, there is to be a General Election on 8 June 2017. Do you know who needs to be there? You. (as long as you’re over 18 that is!) And that means you need to register to vote.

Although a General Election was not due until 2020, the vote for a snap election in the House of Commons saw 522 votes for the notion compared to 13 against. Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past few years, you will know that the Conservative Party came into sole leadership following the General Election in 2015. David Cameron was elected at the time, before handing the Prime Ministerial role over to Theresa May in June 2016 – when Cameron felt he could not continue his role post-Brexit as he had so heavily campaigned to remain.

I will do everything I can as prime minister to steady the ship over the coming weeks and months but I do not think it would be right for me to try to be the captain that steers our country to its next destination. -David Cameron, Resignation Speech, June 2016

Now the boring bit’s over, we can get onto the important stuff – why do you need to be there?

Despite being on a rise since its dip of 59.4% in 2001, turnout for General Elections has been extremely poor in recent years. 2015’s General Election, ending the first coalition in more than 70 years, had a turnout of only 66.1%. But why is turnout still so low when it means having your say on such an important matter?

Obviously, there is no definitive reason why people don’t vote, but from doing a bit of reading around I’ve determined the following as possible reasons.

  • Politics has become confusing without extensive research into each party, thus voters are unsure of what each party stands for and therefore how to make the correct decision for them
  • Voters feel that their votes are ignored
  • The low percentage needed to win an election means that the majority of voters’ views are not reflected by Parliament
  • Voters feel underrepresented by the main parties
  • The first past the post system means that voters do not see the distinct need to actually go and vote

Can you think of anymore? Let me know in the comments and I’ll add them in as a quote from you! Have a look at this forum expanding on some of the points listed above.

Turnout at 2017’s General Election is estimated to be low because many people struggle to see the need for another election so soon – especially seeing as fixed term parliaments have only recently been introduced. Summarising many voters views, Brenda from Bristol expressed her exasperated opinions in a video which went viral following the announcement of the election.

You’re joking, not another one! Oh for God’s sake, I can’t stand this! There’s too much politics going on at the moment! -Brenda from Bristol, April 2017

The turnout levels for the EU Referendum are likely to always be unavailable due to the lack of data collection at smaller votes. However it is generally understood that the turnout of the younger generation was significantly higher than it has been in previous elections. Considering the result of the EU Referendum, where we voted to leave the EU despite a projected 75% of 18-24 year olds voting to remain, it is believed that voting in this demographic for the 2017 General Election will be stunted because they feel that their votes haven’t been listened to in the past.

Update 20/5/2017: BBC Three have released a video covering shocking statistics regarding the number of young voters who don’t vote and some reasons behind it. Watch it here.

The voting age in the UK is 18, something which Labour, Lib Dems, SNP and Green are all behind lowering with only the Conservatives and UKIP bidding to keep the current restriction. This hasn’t, however, stopped youths, who are old enough to be politically minded yet are told they are too young to vote, campaigning for their parties. Why are you wasting your vote when others want one so badly?

So why do you need to vote? – according to BBC News

    • Not enough people are voting
    • Parties win seats on smaller margins than you think
    • Polls can get it wrong
    • ‘Safe seats’ aren’t always that safe
    • You could change your mind about wanting to vote

The manifestos for the main political parties can be found at the following links and will be available in plenty of time for you to make your decision.

Update 21/5/2017: Have a read of this very useful guide comparing each of the manifestos on key issues.

Conservative Party
Co-operative Party
Democratic Unionist Party
Green Party
Labour Party
Liberal Democrats
Plaid Cymru
Scottish National Party
Sinn Féin
Social Democratic and Labour Party
UK Independence Party
Ulster Unionist Party

So please, please, please make sure that you register to vote by 11:59pm on 22 May and ensure that your voice is heard.

GE Final

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