Utilising your vote is crucial. Much as I hold my own political beliefs, I don’t care who you vote for. It’s about utilising that vote that you registered for. Maybe you are registered to vote, but made this registration due to a previous election, and aren’t planning to participate this time around. But quite simply, it isn’t acceptable to sit this one out. As a student, it is easy to believe the general public is as politically engaged as our community is, but this isn’t true. Hopefully I’m preaching to the choir, and you’re all going to vote anyway. But I’d like to change your mind if you’re not.
Make the most of the power you’ve been given and have your say. We need a stronger and more convincing argument than simply telling people “well if you didn’t vote, you can’t complain!”. If you don’t vote, there will be far more serious things to worry about, and they certainly won’t be solved by complaining. We need the electorate to be responsible and use their voice to advocate for the issues that are significant to them. If you’re reading this article in a physical copy of Concrete, you’re probably a student at UEA and have access to online resources which can tell you who to pledge your vote to. If you’re reading this online, you’re already there. Look up the party manifestos and get reading. Educate yourself.
Many people are calling this the Brexit election. This is partially true – the outcome of this election will have a significant impact on the decisions made regarding Brexit, and a large portion of voters will be making their choice based on this issue. Labour are promising a new deal and a second referendum, if you disagree with the way the Conservatives have handled Brexit. However, there are an endless list of issues to consider, and Brexit is being used as a point of tension to make headlines and sway votes when the whole picture a party presents needs to be considered. Two of the most important of these are the climate and the NHS. To put it bluntly, if we don’t make the climate crisis a priority, we won’t be concerned with who’s running the country for much longer. Look into the environmental policies of your chosen party to confirm whether they’re prioritising this, and what their attitude is towards it. Equally, what is their approach to the NHS? Its privatisation certainly isn’t going to help anybody. If you’re in your earlier years of university, look into education policies. You might find it’s worth voting if you think the chances you’ve had in education may be made inaccessible to others.
The statistics for every election this century show more people didn’t vote than voted for any individual party. Stating you’re not interested in politics isn’t good enough. Can you honestly say you’re not interested in education, the NHS, Brexit, or the climate crisis? It’s time to get out and use your vote, it’s absolutely vital.