With the general election rapidly approaching, Jolyon Rubinstein, presenter of BBC Three show ‘An Idiot’s Guide to Politics’ and political satire ‘The Revolution Will Be Televised’, explains why the only way to start fixing a rotten system is to vote.
I can’t be the only one who is sick and tired of the uninspired political culture our generation is currently living in. The question is, are we to blame for this culture? The painful answer is YES. SIXTEEN MILLION ELIGIBLE VOTERS DIDN’T VOTE IN 2010.
I believe there is a crisis at the very heart of our democracy, and while travelling up and down the country making An Idiot’s Guide To Politics for BBC Three, it became clear that the overwhelming perception, regardless of the reality, is that people think MPs are both on the take and plain old liars.
When interviewing the MP Zac Goldsmith recently, he told me that he too thinks our democracy is dysfunctional. I wasn’t shocked when he said that “lying is a staple in parliament”, but the longer I sat with that statement, the more uncomfortable I felt about it. Zac openly said: “At the moment you can lie to get elected. You can then behave in any manner you want in parliament. You can do whatever you want. You can break every single promise you’ve made and there’s nothing your constituent can do about it.”
So what do we do? We vote, in greater numbers than ever before; we fight back against the silent war that the government are waging against the young. The expectation for this year’s general election is that less than 25 per cent of young people (aged 18-24) will vote – despite the future promising increases in tuition fees, cuts to the educational maintenance allowance, cuts to benefits for the under-25s, rising rents, rising house prices and more zero-hours contacts than I care to count.
The only way to change this (short of a bloody revolution) is to use our dysfunctional democratic process to our advantage and vote the shit out of politics. In order for democracy to function, we have to engage with it. Engage, and then reform it. To take back control of our futures we must kick the hell out of this political culture of fear and work collectively to solve the problems at the very core of the beast.
I believe that we no longer live in a democracy; we live in a financial system. Our generation worries about whether we are going to have enough money to pay the rent much more than we think about voting. That’s sad. We should be aspiring to much more than just watching our bank accounts, shouldn’t we?
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You might say, “Why bother?” Wresting control of politics from wealthy vested interests and saving the environment are insurmountable challenges, right? Well, getting women the vote and ending slavery were, too. But when the time comes, change that once seemed impossible becomes inevitable. Nelson Mandela said, “It always seems impossible, until it is done.” So let’s do it.
Please vote on May 7. Let’s start the process of creating the world we want to see by voting out some of the scum that inhabit the corridors of Westminster. Your vote matters – use it.