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Sorry Paxman, Here's Why I Don't Vote

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By Eve Sharp

What would I do with a ballot paper? Practice the art of origami, or maybe draw a crude stick man cartoon? Anything, really, but actually vote with it.

Does that mean I'm an angry youth hell-bent on anarchy or a lazy student, too drunk or asleep to have any interest in politics? Surprisingly no. I am one of many young people disillusioned with the current political system and refusing to pick a lesser of the evils we are offered every few years.

Russell Brand caused a stir (when doesn't he?), when he told a baffled Jeremy Paxman that he had never voted, and never will. He outraged the Newsnight host further by urging young people not to vote, something I think Brand got completely right.

Voting these days seems to be a choice between which posh man in a suit is going to lie to us least. As always the general election will be a two-horse race between parties who are completely out of touch with modern Britain. Unfortunately nobody understands that connecting with the youth of today is going to take more than a few Tweets and putting policies on an app. No political figure is accessible to the general public, they can talk about unemployment and understanding life on benefits but I doubt any of them needed grants at Oxbridge.

Think tanks constantly 'reveal' that young people don't trust politicians. Nick Clegg, the poster boy for our mistrust, apologised for the rise in university fees under the coalition. The Lib Dems gathered support when their manifesto promised to stop a rise, a support that has dropped since that spectacular u-turn. The unachievable promise was made with good intentions, apparently. Good intentions, Mr Clegg, won't pay for education and certainty won't build voter confidence.

Despite the countless times I've heard 'nothing will change unless you vote', 'if everyone had that attitude we'd be nowhere', we are nowhere whether young people vote or not. We are constantly bombarded with the message that we'll never be able to get jobs or own property. Why plan for the future when it seems unattainable? If we can't get to the places that policies are most effective, then why vote for them?

The worst lie I am told is that if I don't vote, when things inevitably go tits up I haven't earned the right to be angry. Voting doesn't give you the authority to make political judgments, that's a right we all have as part of this democracy, regardless of whether we cross a box or not. Surely it is better that I refrain from voting than choosing a party because 'a change would be nice' or 'X isn't as bad as Y.' No vote should be better than a pointless or purely tactical one.

The BBC released figures recently that only an estimated 32% of 18 to 24-year-olds voted in the 2013 local elections. Now that's hardly a surprise. What do councillors actually do? Even less than local MPs, who are only known to their constituents by the obnoxiously bright leaflet through the letterbox. It's a trivial post, only taken by the smug and delusional. They have the unrealistic belief that communities actually still exist and fancy popping down to Westminster for an ego boost. It's hardly worth the walk to the voting station.

Does this indifference to the current political system mean I'm not interested in our country and its government? Of course not. If a party came along that expressed views that met my own or close to, then I would be first to the ballot. It isn't about apathy, it's about believing the current system is wrong. And just because a man with a questionable beard shouts that you should vote, doesn't mean you have to.

In the same way that it's claimed we can't change things by not voting, we can't change things if we comply with systems we oppose. By not voting, by protesting and arguing against the system, we let the government know they're doing something wrong and that this generation wants change. So I for one am joining Russell Brand's revolution. Where do I sign up?

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