“The system’s failed me. I’m not voting”

Brand stated in an interview with Paxman that he has never voted and never will.

Brand stated in an interview with Paxman that he has never voted and never will.

…WELL YOU’RE a fool then aren’t you! Many will flinch back from their screens when they read this commentary, and granted, it is a brutally blunt reflection of my view to this topic but let us all just step back a bit together and think carefully for a second. In the past fortnight, our news feeds were filled with videos of an empowered speech by Russell Brand who was telling our youth, the very people who need to become more active in the workings of this country; that they shouldn’t vote. This man has essentially said a lot of things, filled a void of space with sounds from his mouth, without actually saying anything at all.

I have great admiration for his comedy and charity work, but when it comes to setting a responsible example, he’s hardly the person to go by! Apathy; ladies and gentlemen, a word that has been twisted and warped to its fullest extent since 1997 is rife. And for someone who considers himself to be somewhat left of centre, I would blame no other than Tony Blair for this dramatic reduction in public appeal towards putting an ‘X’ in a box. Devolution had its benefits, more so than its drawbacks – but it has led to a tiered level of electing representatives, unseen to any generation. Let us just look at just a fraction of the positions we are entrusted with electing. The MP’s/AMs/MSPs – Mayors – Councillors (County/District & Town!)- Police & Crime Commissioners – just to name but a few. And then we have our own student representation. Sabbs – Representatives – Ambassadors.

This apathy is endemic throughout all forms of society. Voting figures and turnout

are the topic of every sociology and politics A-Level group in the country. Our young academics are being asked why they think it’s bad over and over again, yet the main cause for concern for all of them is the state of the system. Trust in institutions is at an all-time low.  Our leaders are now elected on their charismatic value rather than their ideological trait. This is something one of Aberystwyth’s own, Prof. Michael Foley has written about in his book, The British Presidency. He argues that the office of Prime Minister has turned into a Presidential entity, and that the function of the executive has had a shift in its core principle.

I’ll stop before I bore you with political theory (you can probably guess at this point in the article that I am indeed an InterPol student) but it is important to recognise the causes of the problem and why we are having such a debate in the first place.  These turnout figures aren’t going up, and next year’s European Elections will be a shock for everyone in the Union as the median turnout across the 28 member states is expected to creep under the 60% mark.

Not voting doesn’t tell the politicians that the system is broken. Instead, it tells them nobody cares. Keep this up and then you won’t have an excuse to be surprised at the next expenses scandal! My honest opinion: If you don’t vote, you’ve surrendered your right to complain about why the system doesn’t work. The values of Democracy dictate that people have the opportunity to voice their opinions. But if none are being voiced then of course there’s a problem in the way things are governed.  It’s slowly becoming our fault that everything is so messed up. Because we didn’t do anything to fix it when we had the chance.

You all have the opportunity to stand for election to something or other or vote for what you believe is best, yet you’d rather someone else did it because you don’t have that big an interest. Your ideas then become void because someone else went ahead with their agenda and now suddenly you’ve become disenfranchised. It’s your own fault.

Call me a cynic, but we’re headed for darker times if this keeps up. The lower the turnout, the lesser the mandate. And without a mandate, the more unstable our political system becomes to manage. Politics affects all of us whether we like it or not, and people deserve the democracies they give a mandate to. If we’re responsible, we’ll be rewarded with a responsible government. We’re lucky to live in a place where this can be accommodated and values can be upheld.

I urge you to cast that Brand interview to one side and snap out of apathy. Become involved, register to vote, go out there and voice your opinion through a vote. Become the change you want to see.