Huffington Post: Use Your Vote

Written for the Huffington Post

vote

The current election appears to have forgotten about 18-35 year olds, the so-called ‘Quarter Life Crisis’ generation. Don’t let the system win; use your vote… even if it’s to vote for nobody.

Watching the ‘magnificent seven’ battle it out in the leaders debate last week, I was delighted when a 25-year-old audience member asked what was to be done about those stung by tuition fees, low job prospects and the housing problem that has arisen over the past decade.

Finally! I’ll get to hear some policies that affect me directly. Of course I care deeply about the NHS, the economy and the other key policies of this election. But how are Cameron, Miliband, Clegg et al going to help those, like myself who have already been hit hard? When I was at school, the Labour-induced student drive left me feeling pressured into going to university despite increased tuition fees. Then the recession hit as I graduated leaving me struggling to find work. Over the following seven years I’ve been left with massive debts. The increase in property prices has left me just about clinging onto the edges of London, the city I was born in.

A large amount of people in my age bracket are also part of generation-rent where over half my income goes on rent, leaving me hardly anything left over to put into savings. I’ve also spent my working life on a chain of temporary and the occasional ‘zero hours’ contracts; leaving me very little in my pension pot. I’m not earning enough to pay my bills, rent and put money into a private pension. Every day I read in the papers that I’ll be worse off than my parents ever were and will probably have to work up to ten years longer than their generation. So with all this in mind I really engaged with the screen and waited to hear what was going to be done to ease my burden.

But the next five minutes focused on what leaders were going to do about tuition fees, education and making life easier for the young children of today; the future generations. Again – don’t get me wrong – these are all very important and I’m glad they’re going to improve the lives of the next generation. But again I was left asking; “hey guys – what about me?”

It made me feel like our generation are screwed, so they’re just going to ignore us and start again.

It seems I’m not alone in feeling isolated and forgotten about in this election. The majority of my friends fit into the 18-35 age-bracket. The main problem with the current election is they’ve forgotten about us. Mainly – I think – because no one really has a clue how to fix the problems that have hit us the hardest.

Over the past few weeks I’ve found many friends of mine are still not registered to vote. I’m not normally the self-righteous type to tell people what to do but in this case I’m willing to make a change. It’s time for us to use our voices; even if it’s to vote for no body. There’s not long left to fill out the registration form and it only takes two minutes. Those two minutes will give you a voice in this next election.

A good friend over dinner the other night declared “No one seems to care about the issues I care about, so therefore I’m not going to vote. There’s no one I can vote for.”

Whilst I respect and totally sympathise with his opinion – I urged him to at least turn up at the polling station next month and cast a blank vote. Spoiling your ballot will tell everyone that you were bothered enough to vote, yet no one out there was worth ticking a box for. If everyone who felt that they’d like to vote but no one was worth voting for spoiled their ballot then at least the message is out there.

David Cameron was elected with just 10.7million votes whilst 15.9million people didn’t vote at the last election. Only 295,000 people spoiled their ballots. What if a majority of those non voters felt there was no one to vote for? Imagine if they’d posted a spoiled ballot instead? It would’ve said a lot more than just not bothering to show up. So if you feel no one is representing you this election or your vote would be a ‘wasted’ one, why not make sure you’re still heard? But in order to make such a statement… you still need to register.

You’ve got until 20 April… so why not take two minutes and register now?

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