As many of you will know, Monday marked the deadline to register to vote.
Back when I got my first chance to vote, I armed myself with a notebook, a overly large cup of tea and a spotify play list as long as my arm and sat down ready to teach myself all about British Politics. I mean don’t get me wrong, I know my David Cameron from my Cameron Diaz and my Corbyn from my corduroy plus plenty more besides. But when it comes down to things like the process of devolution theocracy and written constitutions, I am the weakest link.
Since leaving college a few years back, I’ve worked a wealth of jobs in different fields with age groups ranging from 1 to 99 and I’ve been trying really hard to learn new skills and improve my knowledge while I have the free time (3 months in to leaving college and I could tie a wonderful selection of knots in my sleep!). But as I sat down with all my books and research; It got me thinking, why has it taken so long for me to start learning this and why am I having to teach myself?
At 22 I have had no official political teaching what so ever. Everything I know now, I owe to UK Youth Parliament and my mum, who as a avid voter, has often encouraged me to follow and be interested in just what’s going on around me at both a national and local level. But why have I managed to get so far with barely anything else?
Politics effects all of us in nearly everything we do. Politicians not only deal with some of the biggest issues, like war and international treaties, they deal with all the little things that either comfort or annoy us within our little towns, from campaigning for better street lights to supporting little projects within your neighbourhood. So why is it, that so many of us have just so little knowledge, on potentially some of the most powerful people in the world?
Sadly most people just don’t want to have to keep teaching themselves anymore, having to unravel truth from lie and sometimes I cant blame them. I once read a quote which said: “People aren’t bored with politics itself, just with politicians”.
But if people aren’t being educated surrounding politics and politicians, then how can we ever expect people to care? You would call someone insane, for signing a contract they had been given on the street without reading it first, yet every time someone goes to a polling station and votes purely on the basis of how a candidates comes across in the media that’s what they are doing. When you vote, you’re effectively signing a contract to say, that yes I want that person to represent me, to speak on my behalf and to make decisions that will effect me for the next couple of years.
However it now obvious that politics has never been more important and the general election looms over us. But you only have to look on your Facebook timeline to see the ranges of different opinions (some based on fact and other wildly made up!) Yet the majority of people – myself included will be making a decision that will not only change my life but that of all my friends and family based on pure guess work.
Political education should be a must, lets educate the next generation so that they can make the right choices for them. We shouldn’t have to trawl through the web and the libraries to teach ourselves. It should be compulsory and it’s good to see people starting to agree with this campaign and support it.
If you are looking for a good book to help you get to grips, I highly recommend None of the above by Rick Edwards (pictured above), written for the last general election but always relevant. It’s incredibly useful and clearer than all the useful false news and mis quotes. It helps to make politics more engaging and reminds why it’s important to use our right.
So while I make a fresh cup of tea and go back to my 376 page book about British Politics, maybe you’ll be wondering just how much you know about the political system. If the answer is not very much, don’t worry you’re not alone. For now, thanks to our good friend the internet, you can happily do your own research and make your own choices, just try not to get distracted by gifs of Boris Johnson getting stuck on a zip wire…