Being Heard in the General Election

The other week I wrote about finding a voice, which feels very poignant now that the General Election is in full swing.

I’ve always been afraid of writing about politics. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that I’m not the most qualified person to discuss such matters. Politics is the internet game for smart, current affairs people who can make funny remarks about graphs and stuff. They should talk about the election, not some woman who recently waffled on about her love of dog videos.

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However, this deprecating attitude of who should and who shouldn’t be discussing politics is a huge issue within this election. This is, after all, one of the most major conversations to be part of!

It seems that in the past political voice was defined by votes. The message was that if you voted someone was listening. We’re told that young people don’t vote and that this warrants a bad lot in life (a rise in tuition fees, the revoking of housing benefits, unfair renting, ect.)And it is true that young people have had a bad history of voting – in the last election, less than half of 18-24 year olds voted.

However, even if every single young person of today voted, according to a BBC Analysis, it would still take 30 years for us to become a electorally significant demographic.

So how can we be heard?

Well it really shouldn’t be that hard (note that I use ‘shouldn’t be’ instead of ‘isn’t’). Communication is the driving force of Generation Y. We tweet, we text, we snapchat, we blog… there’s so many platforms for our opinions out there, that it seems mad that most of us (myself included) are allowing our political views to go wasted in drunken rants in the pub.

I understand that David Cameron and the like aren’t going to watching my twitter feed or reading this blog, but at the very least we should be creating more awareness within the great potential-voter pool. So many communities are being marginalised by the current government and if we don’t all use the tools that we’ve been given, these people will slowly just disappear from view.

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London especially is a great example of this. Just look at the Focus E15 Mothers, who are currently occupying abandoned council estates in protest of the housing crisis. If these women sat back and proclaimed: ‘well it isn’t my place to question the government!’ Then they wouldn’t even have a chance of remaining in their local area. They would have been quietly pushed out of London, like most working-class people have been in recent years.

Even I know that lucky circumstance is all that has kept me out of extreme poverty. I’ve been financially independent since the age of 18, supporting myself through either student loans or finding work. I don’t have a good relationship with my parents. Once I left university, there was no home to go back to. No safety net against the jobs crisis.

My final year of university was filled with a crushing fear that only those who have come out of dire circumstance know and will never forget. What if I failed to get a job? What if I couldn’t afford to shelter myself?

The Tories have pledged that anyone between 18-21 will not be able to claim housing benefit. Now I’m sure they’ll make exceptions for the obvious cases – such as those who have lost their parents. But I doubt that those in my special circumstances, ones that have no documented proof of why they can’t live in their family home, will be saved from finding themselves either on a friend’s couch or (very likely) the streets.

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Judging from the Tories recent commitment to cut £12 bn from Welfare, this trend for demonizing and exploiting the most vulnerable in our society is only getting worse. And it’s no coincidence that this same group of people are the ones who feel they can’t speak out. That no one cares. That their voice doesn’t matter.

I refuse to believe that we are an indifferent generation and that we cannot shape the destiny of our own country. I have a voice, a vote, and a platform to say in which direction my country should be heading – and you do too.

And preferably, let’s have that direction moving as far away from the Conservatives as possible.

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