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Goldsmiths' Official Student Magazine

Burn Parliament Burn: Does Voting Really Change Anything?

April 20, 2015
Ewan Atkinson toys with the idea of voting in the next general election, and muses on if it actually benefits the interest of the people. On May 7th Britain we will take to the polls and vote for our next government. But, some of you may be asking, is there really any point? Is our…

Ewan Atkinson toys with the idea of voting in the next general election, and muses on if it actually benefits the interest of the people.

On May 7th Britain we will take to the polls and vote for our next government. But, some of you may be asking, is there really any point? Is our once-every-5-years day of voting really going to change anything? Without sounding like Russell Brand, I really don’t think that voting, or at least voting alone, will change very much. In Britain, we supposedly live in a democracy, however the idea of democracy is system of government that is run by the people for the people. In my opinion, that seems pretty far from the system we have now.

Less than ¼ of people under 25 say they are planning to vote in the next election; a lot of people call it apathy and that the young people of today don’t care about politics. But when it comes down to it, do we have anyone to vote for?

When donating £50,000 to the conservative party gets you a dinner with David Cameron how can you call this system a democracy? The people donating these fortunes are going to expect something in return; factory workers didn’t write the tax evasion loopholes? The party doesn’t even deny that money influences governmental policy; conservative MP Zac Goldsmith recently admitted on national television that those who donate influence Tory party policy. What use is my vote going to do when a wealthy oligarch can pay Dave £50K for a chat and a policy change? The only £50,000 I’m going to have anytime soon is the £50K of student debt I’ll have racked up when I finish uni.

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Photo from meangirlsatdowningstreet.tumblr.com

Unfortunately, dodgy party donations are just scraping the surface of how unfair our governmental system is. Politicians are allowed to lie to the public in order to get them to vote for their party and then do the opposite of what they promise. We all know about Nick Clegg’s tuition fees lie, so I won’t go on about that.

But Nick’s not the only one; David Cameron categorically promised not to cut frontline public service staff. However, the government have closed 63 fire stations, sacked 4000 full time fighters as well as closed A&Es and cut funding for education. But apparently, even though they have used lies to get into power, there isn’t anything we can do about it. We have to just sit tight and wait another 5 years and try to vote them out, but is that really going to change anything?

After the Conservatives and Lib Dems increased tuition fees, to large opposition from students and the public, you would therefore think the opposition party would be all in favour of scrapping them. Think again. Ed Milliband has announced if Labour gets in they will cut tuition fees to £6000 a year. Hmmm cheers Ed, I was really worried about leaving uni with £50,000 in debt but only £41,000?! That’s fine!

It’s not just on the subject of tuition fees that make Labour party a slightly watered down Tory party. They, like the Conservatives, believe in austerity. Which means regardless of who’s the next Prime Minister we will have another 5 years of workers losing out, whilst banks – who received bailouts of taxpayer money to keep afloat, are rumoured to have helped the rich to not pay their taxes. Whatever happens at the next general election, public services will still be cut and the rich will still get away with avoiding tax.

Many people reading this will be thinking ‘but what about the Greens?’ Which is fair enough; arguably if enough people vote for them, by the 2020 election they might provide a left-wing alternative. But I don’t personally believe that the Greens will be affecting policy in the next government, and won’t be representing working people anytime soon, however good an MP Caroline Lucas is.

What I ask of current British politics is to give us real representation and a belief that our votes can change something. But until then, voting or not, voting alone won’t change anything – if you want to see positive change in this world then you must take up direct action. This can range from lobbying your MP to taking part in marches and demonstrations to – as many of us at Goldsmiths did recently– occupations.

“I may not vote, but it certainly doesn’t mean I don’t care.” – An Idiots Guide To Politics, BBC 3, 2015.

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Photo by Andrew Hargrave 

Note From the Writer

I will be voting in the upcoming election. I will be voting in a way to try and prevent another Conservative government. This article was not written to encourage people to not vote. If you don’t agree with the political parties on the ballot paper and don’t want to consent to any of them then please spoil your ballot rather than simply staying at home