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It Is Perverse to Encourage Young People Not to Vote

08/04/2014 17:09 BST | Updated 08/06/2014 10:59 BST

An estimated 32% of 18 to 24-year-old's voted in the 2013 local elections compared to around 72% of the over 65s. If this dynamic plays out in national politics and into the future then it is surely dangerous for us all. The fewer people who vote the more likely we will end up with more extreme parties wielding influence - the fewer people who vote will mean policies and decisions that don't reflect the views of the majority. This is undemocratic and - in the end - bad for most of us.

I am a local politician - we deal in vote counts in the hundreds or low thousands - but the principles are broadly the same as those at national level. We knock on doors and we know that politicians are not held in high regard and that is probably a healthy thing - the polar opposite to the leadership adulation forced on North Koreans and all the suffering that regime brings them.

But people should still vote even if they don't admire those they vote for - democracy works (compared with authoritarian non-democracies) by the majority of people getting their way a lot of the time. You vote for them - or withhold your vote from them according to what politicians offer. That's simplistic of course - but broadly true. There is nothing to be ashamed about politicians chasing votes - that's how it is supposed to work, isn't it?

In fairness, politicians don't always deny things to non-voters - the pupil premium, giving support to children from poor families is an example - the support for SureStart Centres is another. But - overall - politicians will spend a lot of time thinking of doing things so people will vote for them. If they know a certain group doesn't vote then you might well do less for them at some level. Isn't that only fair to those that actually bother to vote?

Again - this is not the whole picture - not all things will be done on that basis but it should work that way most times shouldn't it?

So if young people don't vote - fewer politicians, who at national level are in charge of billions of pounds of tax payer's money - will still try to please those that vote for them - and young people will lose out.

Nobody expects any one to love politicians but the deal should be that you ask politicians what they can do to earn your vote when they knock on your door: you look at what they offer and decide whether to vote for them. It does not take up much time to fill in a voting form and then either vote by post or spend 10 minutes visiting a polling station every few years.

Russell Brand - who has a lot of influence and a very loud voice, has suggested young people should not vote - this is perverse. It is alright for him to take this view - his opinions will get attention. For him to suggest that other people should not bother to use their only instrument of influence is wrong.

As has been pointed out he offers no alternative for ordinary young people - he simply advocates that they should not use their democratic influence whilst older people continue to successfully use theirs.

Too many politicians are grey haired men (this includes me) - too few are women and younger people and people from different ethnic groups: and this needs to change. But young people disengaging will not help things change.

Too much can be made of Brand's pontifications - young people are not getting involved for all sorts of different reasons - his intervention was more noticeable than most - but some people may listen to him.

I know that you will get the attention of politicians if they think you will vote for them - they are more likely to listen to the views of those who ask - "why should I vote for you?" then they are to those who say they say they will not vote and isn't that only fair?

The best way to make sure you are not listened to by politicians is to not vote - it is the most certain self-fulfilling prophecy available.