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15 August 2014

Voting. Why bother?

Voting. Why bother?

There is nothing to vote for, according to Russell Brand. And with voter turnout steadily declining it seems many people agree with him.

You don't need to be an expert to recognise the mood of the nation. Frustration at being ignored by the MPs we voted for, anger at numerous public spending scandals, as well as various other scandals and a lack of leadership and substance coming from political parties have created a sense of disenchantment among voters.

Is it any wonder that people don't want to engage with politics?

While some would say there are glaring flaws in our political system, the simple matter is that decisions are made by those who show up to vote.

At the 2010 General Election 76 per cent of over-65s voted;a far higher turnout than the average 65 per cent. Do white, older, men get a better deal from policy because they are more likely to vote?

Our system may not be perfect but we are privileged to live in a country that is underpinned by a democratic political system. This is in stark contrast to many countries around the world and should be valued all the more for this reason. We enjoy a privilege that many people are desperate to have.

There are of course many ways to engage in politics. However our democratic system is underpinned by voting so for this reason it is a particularly powerful and important way to make our voice heard. If we choose not to vote we are giving up a privilege and power that does get results.

In contrast to days gone by, public perception is that there seems to be very little difference in what the various parties are offering along with frankly a lack of inspiring leadership for voters to connect with. This leadership void is most concerning because it's seeing a new generation of voters not even bothering to exercise their rights and responsibilities as voters.

Decisions that have been made by this government have justifiably left many of us feeling like there is no point because we'll just be ignored anyway. Toni Pearce of the New Statesman responds to this so well: "Don't allow a grudge to disempower you from playing a part in huge decisions that will affect you."

We all have a valuable part to play in politics. And it starts with voting. Let's own that power and get involved with shaping our nation.

It's OK to be frustrated. To be angry. To be disappointed. But never let yourself be indifferent.