THE BLOG

How Do We Engage The Politically Disengaged?

04/05/2017 13:20 BST | Updated 04/05/2017 13:20 BST
Bliznetsov via Getty Images

The announcement of the forthcoming General Election was met with a collective groan of political fatigue, most effectively summed up by viral star Brenda from Bristol. Whilst Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn, Tim Farron and co are in the midst of campaigning up and down the country, but one has to question how successful this tactic is. Despite May pledging to "get into communities that have felt up until now that politicians have ignored them", statistics show that a worryingly large amount of people feel apathetic towards politics. In the General Election of 2001, voter turnout dipped drastically to 59.4%, and whilst this figure has been slowly climbing to 66.1% in 2015, it still means that a third of eligible voters are opting to not vote.

It wouldn't be wrong to expect that less people will turn up to the polling stations on the 8th June, after all, the sentiment that we're at political saturation point is one that's held by a lot of people. But how can the tide be changed, and the politically disengaged become engaged?

Whilst it has only been two years since the last General Election, and a year on from the Brexit Referendum, some young people will turn 18 and have no knowledge of what political party to vote for. It's commendable that teachers aim to be as politically neutral as possible in order to not influence students, however this obstructs the opportunity for informed political debates in a monitored environment. By not discussing politics openly in schools, it leaves young adults in a potentially bewildering situation where they feel overwhelmed by the political jargon that's prolific in the media. If politics was presented in a simpler, more matter of fact way, throughout school, then it could help to interest some young people who know more about Hollywood celebrities than the housing crisis.

May's, and subsequently Corbyn's decision, to dodge a TV debate is also disengaging a much wider audience than just young people. Although TV may not hold as much influence as it used to, ITV's Leaders Debate prior to the 2015 Election was seen by a peak audience of 7.4 million and generated a buzz on social media. It can't be assumed that everybody picks up a paper in the morning to read about politics or are willing to listen to them being interviewed on The Andrew Marr Show each Sunday. A TV debate is an event. Even if people don't watch it, clips go on social media which could entice them to research more about the election and could result in a greater voter turnout.

We need to encourage everyone to vote. Although compulsory voting would take away people's right to choose, it is worth remembering that even today people are still fighting to have their voices heard. To those that have yet to register, you have a voice; don't miss your chance to use it!

If you are yet to register to vote in the General Election on 8th June follow this link: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote