if Britain had someone to vote against then people would turn up,
Thursday May 2nd saw local elections in 174 authorities in England, Im
telling you this because not many people knew it. Those that did know
didnt bother turning up. Those that did vote were not a fair representation
of the country.
The fact is that the youth of this country cant be bothered to vote.
Those that do want to vote find obstacles at every path. The university
student who has a lot to gripe about has to endure a long process of filling
out forms to vote either at home or at their university. Many just cant
be bothered even to get that far. The working youth of this country dont
have time during the day and are not bothered enough or too tired to go
If I were being honest, Id admit I didnt even realize that
the elections were on until a week or so before the local elections began,
even now Im not sure if there was one in my area, I only knew through
one being held where Im living at university. At the beginning of
my course in September 1999 I got the form for a postal vote, but unsure
when the next elections were coming up it faded from memory. By the time
I realised, it was too late. No one contacted me to remind me of the need
for me to vote. Maybe this is harsh, I was not at home and my parents
may have been out when the candidate phoned or called round to the house.
But ever predictable, the local candidate in Lincoln didnt bother
to call round either and we all know what reputation students get: being
in all day with nothing better to do than watch daytime TV. So where were
all these candidates, had they all suddenly been kidnapped by aliens,
fallen down a big whole or vanished of the face of the earth. Unfortunately
no, although whether many people would notice is another question. The
answer is not as simple as first seems.
Disappointing youth voting figures dont end at students, Alan Woodward,
28 claims he never has the chance to vote even if he had the time, "I
work a nine-to-five day, I dont know why they dont let you
vote on more than one day, or maybe even a weekend, at least that would
give me a chance. As soon as I get home Im too tired to vote, I
just dont have the motivation." This is just one reason why
there was a poor turnout this year. The difficulty in getting people vote
is one that the government is finally addressing. Text phone voting that
was introduced in Sheffield and Liverpool on Thursday is certainly a step
in the right direction. Along with this is the internet which over the
last few years has been the center of a new direction of voting, but perhaps
the cleverest is the idea of polling booths in common places like supermarkets.
These simple ideas may just turn voting figures around "This is definitely
the right way forward, it would be much easier to vote if it was not so
far out the way, a supermarket sounds like a good idea." admitted
Amanda Jones, 24 "the internet Im not sure of, I have to know
that its safe before I used it, although it sounds in principle
like a good idea."
Although such ideas would help, the core of the problem lies with the
political parties themselves. Todays Britain sees Labour and Conservative
parties merging ever closer on their policies. In the general elections
last year the Conservatives tried to highlight the fact that they had
a radically different policy to Labour, No to Europe, and
we all know where that got them. In France voting figures were higher
than expected, thanks to a certain Monsieur Le Pen, perhaps if Britain
had someone to vote against then people would turn up, if people are prepared
to stand up for what they believe in then maybe something will change.
Andrea Moorly, 20 agrees, "I just dont see the point, I want
to vote but they all seem the same, it wont effect me whatever happens.
What this country needs, in their elections is a person who knows the
area and wants to help the community. The independent party candidates
would be a good example but they just dont have the support as Labour
Perhaps this is why many local candidates get overwhelmed at the elections,
but as ever its not as simple as putting Joe Bloggs in as your local
councilor. Even if local elections saw a local candidate with the community
at heart get in, would they make a difference? The answer ever time would
be no. Local councils have little say in how much money
to raise or how to spend it, as that has already been decided. Even if
they did, the chances are that the community would be divided on how it
should get spent. Once more we come across another problem
with the idea of local candidates, most that do volunteer themselves are
not representatives of the youth. Those that are on the better side of
middle age would most likely not get voted in, because as weve seen
the youth of Britain dont vote.
Where does the government go from here, well just follow these simple
steps to get the whole country interested, not just the parents of the
whole country. First make sure as many people can vote as possible, empty
church halls dont attract people like they used to, (maybe set up
polling booths in pubs perhaps during the world cup or other big tournaments).
Second try and get voting allowed over the Internet, (perhaps advertise
it as porn or computer games then maybe that would get a few people to
visit the site). Oh but make sure its secure first. Next try and get councilors
who represent the public, make sure they not too old, or not too young,
hes got to represent the area, but have a lot of respect with political
parties so he can demand more money. And finally make sure they are appetizing
to the voters, may I suggest Councillor Idol. An interactive
TV show where all the candidates have to show off their talents to the
public where they slowly vote you out of the running to leave the best/last
candidate standing. Note: this may cause many seemingly talentless people
to have long and painful pop careers, so be careful.
© Mike Worden May 2002
< Reply to this Article