The Vote: can being involved in politics really make a difference?

I’d love to be involved in politics – but how? Like many young people – in fact, like many people – I’m not entirely happy with the state that the country is in.

I’d love to be involved in politics – but how? Like many young people – in fact, like many people – I’m not entirely happy with the state that the country is in. I acknowledge that, to be fair to them, there’s not a lot that any government could have done about a worldwide economic crisis but there are things which, if I was in Number 10, I would do differently. I certainly wouldn’t have given Michael Gove a job for a start, especially not one that puts him in charge of education. I want to make a difference.

Yet it seems as though the only people who can make a difference are the politicians who get elected to Parliament. In the vast majority of cases, to get elected to Parliament, you need funds and the backing of your party, which tends to mean treading the party line.

‘Treading the party line.’

‘Treading the party line’ is a phrase that I hate because it sums up one of the aspects of politics that I absolutely detest. You should not vote for something because someone has told you to do it, you should vote for something because you genuinely believe in it. It shouldn’t be unusual to get a ‘free vote’, every vote should be a free vote. Imagine the outcry if an employer like HMV or John Lewis told its employees who to vote for in the next general election; why is it different just because the job is that of an M.P?

This brings in the wider issue of ‘party politics’. I’m not saying having different political parties are a problem, but increasingly politics has become more about scoring points against your opposition parties than it has been about policies. I groan inwardly every time anyone from the government says ‘the mess the previous government has left us’ and I pull a face every time someone from the opposition says ‘why are you cutting x service’ when the reality is, if they were in government, they would be doing much the same.

Working together

I wish, for once, political parties would work together. A caller to BBC Radio 5Live recently made the point that the see-saw nature of politics (the Conservatives get in, then Labour, the conservatives…) means that one side spends its time erasing what the previous government had done and replacing it with their own ideologically driven policies, which the next government will then inevitably erase.

Of course, everyone will have a different opinion on what is the correct way to, for example, fix the economy and some of this will be driven by ideology. If you just have two different sides with two differing ideologies then you get the see-saw that the caller talked about. If politicians worked together then you would get a compromise, which might even give a better result than something ideologically driven.

Get noticed to get elected

That’s unlikely to happen. So how do I make a change in the mean-time? Well, I’d have to join a political party. But I don’t want to tread the party line. Well then, I could always start my own party. But this would take a large amount of time and a huge expense just to get noticed in one constituency. Getting noticed is one thing, getting elected is another completely.

Even assuming that I somehow make a splash with my new political party and do get elected to be an M.P, would that make a difference? It seems unlikely. People are put off voting for the Green Party, who have a handful of MPs and are a fairly established name in the political sphere, because they feel it’s wasting their vote; they’ve only got a few M.Ps, they’re not going to make a difference.

So, basically, it seems that I’ll never be able to make a difference in Parliament. So how exactly am I supposed to make a difference, to make a positive change? There’s been a lot of news recently about Russell Brand and his ‘revolution’. He seems to be encouraging marches and not voting. Will that make a difference? At the end of the day, you still need the politicians who vote in those chambers to make any real difference.

I guess this is why voter apathy is so high. We really do care about what’s going on and we really want to make a difference. It’s just we don’t see any way that we can.

Do you want to make a difference? Do you agree that voting is becoming futile? Have your say below.

Image by: Propaganda times