As I wrote up my argument in preparation for my regular Spotlight show on Ujima Radio, I was warned by my producer that I needed to prepare for a ‘rebuttal’. I knew that by arguing on the radio why we should all join comedian Russell Brand’s revolution by not voting in this year’s General Election, was sure to get the typical ‘how do you expect change if you don’t vote?’ question; and once again I would roll my eyes.
I, like Russell Brand, have never voted in my life. There are also hundreds of thousands of other 18-24 year olds who haven’t registered to vote in this year’s election on 7th May. This may sound appalling, and I’m not saying that the numbers justify it, but politics has always mystified and irritated me in equal measures. Growing up I have seen my hard working parents struggle to pay bills and afford nice things despite sacrificing for myself and my brother. Governments have the power to change this common struggle by giving tax relief to those who need it (and not handing out benefits to those who don’t), demanding that energy suppliers reduce their prices, make food more affordable and raise the living wage. Now, although I am thankful to say that my parents are a lot better off now than 10 years ago, there are still millions of families who have been struggling to live a comfortable life for years but politicians carry on protecting bankers’ bonuses and making the rich richer. I don’t see how the UK is really a democracy when the apsects of life that people want changed, are not the things that politicians act upon.
Watching Jeremy Paxman interview David Cameron and Ed Miliband only put me off voting even more as their ability to dance around the questions and give vague answers stops me from being able to put any trust into these so called leaders. They’re no better than the spin doctors who work for them. This is why I choose not to vote because I am sick of their lies and false promises (need I mention Nick Clegg’s false promise of capping tuition fees?). I’m sure you’ll find it as embarrassing as I did watching David Cameron squirm in his interview with Paxman as he tries not to answer a very simply question that many of us would like answered…
The main reason that young people feel alienated from politics is because they have no one to relate to. But Russell Brand understands the need for a down-to-earth politician who has actually experienced the worst of life. Brand’s past as a drug addict, with no education living in a poor area of Essex, has made him the humble and caring man who continues to fight for the rights of the underclass who are ignored by white middle class politicians. Brand is the kind of person someone like me would vote for in a heartbeat if he ran for PM, because I know I can trust him and his passion for justice is all too clear in his new documentary film The Emperor’s New Clothes.
Needless to say, trying to put all of these thoughts into a 15 minute radio show, is no easy feat. You can hear my attempt at doing so here: