Students! Do not fall into the trap of ignoring the next general election

 The shadow of the next general election is darkening the corridors of power in Westminster. Speculation, analysis, the words of MPs – no one knows when the next general election will be. It’s been floated May (looking less likely) definitely October (maybe) could be November. Will Rishi Sunak push it to the wire in the cold depth of January 2025? It’s anyone’s guess.  

 Our politics has entered an ever-continuing series of scandals which has destroyed public trust. People feel let down and alienated by politics with many feeling that no political party truly represents them. Voter apathy is high. People aren’t sure who to vote for, they feel there are no good options on the table. As a voting group, students are particularly vulnerable to indifference. Young people have the lowest turnout when it comes to general elections. 

 Businesses have a target audience that they believe are most likely to buy their product; they channel all their energy and resources into targeting groups that will benefit them. Political parties are much the same, the issues they focus on and policies they highlight aim to persuade the groups with the highest voter turnouts, winning them seats and ultimately putting them into government. Students are therefore given a lot less attention by political parties. This feeling of being ignored and having no party to reflect their views can increase voter apathy.  

 To avoid feeling disinterested when it comes to the general election there are ways you, as students, can get involved with in the heart of elections which will help you to feel empowered and more interested in politics.  

 One of the most important ways you can engage with a general election is to vote. This means you have contributed your view on who should govern our country. You’ve made clear the policies you believe in. Turning up to vote can be complicated for students. You could be in your university city or at home on polling day, so knowing where you’re registered to vote, and your nearest polling station are important to find out. It’s easy to fall into the mentality that your vote won’t make a difference, but even if your vote doesn’t change the outcome of your constituency, the more students that vote across the country, the more political parties will be forced to listen to your views and shape policy with this in mind.  

 Take time researching political parties. Reading through manifestos, listening to TV debates and interviews will give you a good idea of what parties stand for. You’ll also get to know the issues that matter most to them. In televised debates you will be able to see the different views held by parties on the same issues. You will become more informed. Understanding the key debates mean you can formulate your own views and vote accordingly. To get involved in an election it is best to understand the key issues that are defining it.  

 Political parties love volunteers. When it comes to elections, they organise large canvassing sections were groups of organisers go knocking on doors to ask people about their views and voting intentions. They often organise clerical sessions and other events as well which bring people together for a few hours to perform a shared task. Participating in this gives you a chance to get involved in the frontline of campaigning during an election. Being part of this active campaigning means you play an important part during the campaign, instead of just being an observer you become a party activist. Volunteering will allow you to meet a range of interesting people, many of them political veterans who often have some great stories about past elections and campaigns and people with similar views as you. Volunteering is one of the best ways to involve yourself, opening up the opportunity to understand the inner workings of elections, politics and campaigns.  

 Similarly, you can become a member of a party for as little as six pounds a year. This gives you access to webinars on policy, debates with party MPs, and the opportunity to share opinion on policy, manifesto, and the election. Becoming a member is another way you can get more involved directly, allowing you to build knowledge and contribute to a party’s campaign.  

 By January 2025 the UK will have held its General Election. Millions of the electorate will have chosen the makeup of our parliament, the direction of our country and the man with the keys to Downing Street. It is important that we, as students, participate in this, as the decisions will impact our future and careers post-graduation. It’s all too easy to feel apathetic about the whole process but student involvement in elections has many benefits, ranging from affecting the political landscape and policy, to personally giving you exciting experiences and chances to be involved in our democracy.  



Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash 

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