With increasing apathy towards politics, who should young people vote for in the upcoming election? Adam Thornton compares two options.
Next month the public will be getting ready to make a choice between a bunch of all-too-similar candidates and decide which one of them will have the power to change our society. No, I’m not talking about the next X Factor final; I’m talking about the 2015 Election.
For many of us this will be the first time we’ll have headed to the ballot boxes, and the result of the votes we cast will have a profound effect on our lives. So it’s crucial that we don’t treat the vote like an Amazon Customer Feedback Survey, and actually give it some thought.
But since 2010’s Coalition Government, the main political parties have become so similar in attitudes that the only difference appears to be the colour of their leaders’ ties. So who should we vote for? And does it make any difference?
Of course it does. Differentiating the major parties might be as difficult as trying to pick the gherkins out of a Quarter Pounder without getting ketchup on your fingers – but that’s not an excuse to not bother voting. Personally, I believe that if you don’t vote, you have no right to complain when some old Etonian raises taxes.
We’re at Goldsmiths. So rather than discuss something mainstream – such as how Ed Miliband, David Cameron and Nick Clegg have dodged tricky questions about social issues like well-dressed contortionists – I’ll talk about the ‘alternative parties’ who have gained support since 2010 and consider reasons for and against voting for them.
In one corner we have UKIP, driven by Eurosceptic figurehead Nigel Farage. In the other corner are the Green Party, wielding weapons of re-nationalisation and Universal Basic Income and led by Natalie Bennett. Both seem like chalk and cheese, yin and yang. But are either of them worth voting for?
Let’s quickly sum them up.
With local election victories (such as Tory defector Douglas Carswell for Clacton) and a growing popularity in opinion polls – 60% in the by-election result for Carswell’s constituency – it’s clear that UKIP are no longer some form of protest vote.
And because of this, it’s important that voters realise how hypocritically right-wing UKIP’s policies are. Farage pledges for Britain’s EU withdrawal and protecting national interests, yet UKIP is remarkably silent about the TTIP, a trade agreement which would give power to multinational corporations.
Here’s one of their recent blood-boiling campaign posters to admire:
Fun to have a laugh at their radical supporters’ comments on Facebook. Will put pressure on David Cameron and make the Coalition accountable for their failures.
Actually more contemptible than the Coalition. Not the ‘people’s army’, but a bunch of middle-aged Thatcherists.
The Green Party
Their promise to scrap tuition fees would be much more beneficial to students than UKIP’s lunatic policies. But the same promise also seems too good to be true. Who’s going to pay for them instead? I’m sure that taxes are not the answer voters are looking for.
Perhaps because of this, some people still see Green as a wasted vote. And why wouldn’t they? Only recently, Bennett claimed that the Greens would move the Queen into a Council Estate if they got into power. This sounds like a great idea for a BBC3 reality TV programme, but not something which makes the party sound credible.
Here’s one of the Green Party’s campaign posters. Please compare to UKIP.
Pros: Nice ideas, student-friendly, will make a positive impact to the upcoming debates.
Cons: Utopian policies means they are seen as a wasted vote.
Decisions, decisions. Made up your mind who to vote for? Or more confused than before? Okay, none of the parties are perfect – and I can’t promote one over others. But there is one more thing to consider.
Most of us Goldsmiths students are living in London away from home, so to make the right choice we also need to consider which party will have the most positive impact where we’re from – not a hundred miles away in New Cross. I’d love to see Tuition Fees scrapped, but I also want to make sure my nan’s care home isn’t closed down because of spending cuts. Something to bear in mind.
So, when you’re rocking up to the ballot box hung-over on 7th May, consider what impact a UKIP/Green/Conservative/Labour/Lib Dem vote would have where you come from.
But most importantly, make sure to vote! Because whoever you go for – even if it’s just to wipe the grin off Nigel Farage’s smarmy face – it will make a difference.