Thursday, 8 May 2014

Young people apathetic to voting – Russell Brand's fault?

In the wake of the stark revelation that 60 per cent of first time voters will not use their vote at the next general election, there has been some debate about whether comedian Russell Brand is to blame.
This refers to some months ago when he spoke on Newsnight saying that people should not bother voting because there was no one worth voting for.
In a rather tongue in cheek way I would like to initially question whether any young people of the ilk who are not planning to vote would be watching Mr Brand being interviewed by Jeremy Paxman in the first place. I do however recognise that his comments were then posted and pasted in numerous other places following the interview including Twitter, which young people are undoubtedly engaged in.
I believe that Russell Brand was wrong to say young people should not vote in order to, in his words, spark a revolution, for the very fact that as we can see, less than half young people are voting at the moment anyway. A revolution cannot consist of young people continuing on with their usual business on voting day and not visiting a polling station, because most of those non-voting young people would be unaware they were taking part in a revolution in the first place.
I think there are two far greater issues than Russell Brand here. The first is that politicians are completely unreachable and completely unrelatable to the majority of young people. No attempt, as far as I can see, is being made by anyone in power, to try and reach out to young potential voters and clearly lay out why they should vote for them or to communicate in a way that young people are going to embrace, such as the ever present social media.
Secondly, young people on the whole are looking up to the wrong kind of role models today – the likes of the Towies and the Victoria Beckhams, the Cheryl Coles who are far removed from the political scene and so certainly do not inspire young people who look up to them to vote. Indeed, young person and celebrity operate in complete oblivion to anything to do with politics and elections.
Go back just a couple of generations and people would not have dreamed of wasting a vote. They realised just how privileged they were to even have the ability to do so. Young people today are not even aware that in some countries people are still unable to vote, and many a young 'feminist' will bounce around in their bedroom singing along to Lily Allen lyrics but are not aware of the brave fight the suffragettes put up to give women the vote.
A duel move of going back to good old fashioned values and understandings about voting, coupled with the whole political scene moving with the times needs to take place for more young people to put their cross in that box, and meanwhile Russell Brand can stop being intentionally provocative because it will only make it worse.

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