Noel Gallagher, in an interview with Russell Brand for the New Statesman, says he wouldn’t vote if there was an election tomorrow. “I’m not sure I would vote,” he said. “I didn’t feel last time that there was anything left to vote for. Doesn’t seem that anything has changed, ergo...?”
It’s a similarly disenfranchised view to the one espoused by many of the new bands we gathered together for NME’s recent ‘Young Britannia’ cover.
Ben from Childhood summed up the general mood when he said: “I don’t care about any political government because they’re all one and the same. It’s led me into this disillusioned state where I don’t know what I want from the country I live in. I’m more focused on music because I’m surrounded by sadness.”
It would be easy to dismiss Noel’s apathy as the predictable fate of a the man who’s found his way out of the city to become a “rock’n’roll star” and who is now content to put his feet up in a mansion and worry about his tax bill. Likewise it’s easy to chastise the young pretenders for failing to engage with the political issues of the day. Then again, you can sympathise when you cast your eyes across the sorry and ideologically stunted lineup of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Ed Miliband. Would any of them swapping places make a substantial difference to education, workfare and employment opportunities, police stop and search or any of the other issues that make an actual difference to the young people living and breathing and dreaming and going about their lives in 2013?
Problem is, votes count whether you cast them or not. If you don’t go out and make a mark at the ballot box, you’re effectively doubling the value of the diehard voters who could be bothered.
So vote, but democracy is about more than ticking a box. It’s about educating yourself so that your vote is an informed one, and it’s about not thinking that just because you’ve activated the release valve of voting once every four years you’re off the hook for the rest of the time. Only a knowledgeable population that’s vocal throughout the year about the issues that matter can bring about real change. Otherwise our leaders collapse into the intellectual blacmange that currently governs us. There’s a time for escapism and a time for engagement. There’s no future in England’s dreaming. Time to wake up.