If I wanted to save the Earth, would I choose Greenpeace or the Green Party? It seems that young people are often more tuned-in to single issues than party politics. In fact, political apathy amongst young people is frequently noted the media. Perhaps it’s because the main political parties appear so similar. Let’s take education, for example, where the parties’ policies overlap with regard to smaller class sizes, better discipline and removing political interference in schools.
Unfortunately, I am somewhat sceptic when it comes to adverts and manifestos: are they more than just propaganda? Can we truly believe what the politicians promise? It may be that as parties have such similar policies, party politics and points-scoring become more important for parties to distinguish themselves. Opposition parties can resort to highlighting relatively petty issues, from Gordon Brown’s ‘gaffe’ to David Cameron’s Bullingdon Club days – but how much does all this matter in combating climate change or improving education? Single issues are just more appealing as party politics risk undermining the greater issues that politicians should be fighting for.
Moreover, whilst the Green Party has to deal with the banking system, the NHS and Housing issues for instance, Greenpeace can concentrate on climate change and other uniquely environmental-related issues. It’s as if I can truly see what I’m signing up for: the focus is on helping the environment and that, specifically, is the cause I am supporting. However, I can see this is where I am mistaken. Single campaign groups don’t make policy; political parties make policy.*
Fortunately enough, politics can be interesting. The Student Room, a popular forum for young people, has aroused significant enthusiasm and debate in the run-up to the elections. In addition to a forum dedicated to the Elections 2010, they have recently conducted their own Student Question Time, with young people asking their questions to party leaders. Issues raised ranged from University loans and LGBT equality, to immigration policies and public sector cuts. Questions which gave students an insight into the politician’s personality, such as what he would do on a gap year, could suggest that young people do want to get to know politicians after all.
And given the stereotype of ‘old and boring’ politics, it becomes even more engaging when there’s something different about: the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats are often promoting the change their party will bring, whilst Nick Griffin on Question Time was a hot topic at Debating Society.
I know politics shouldn’t have to be different to get my vote. Instead of wallowing in a mix of scepticism, confusion between the parties and being averse to what appears ‘old and boring’, perhaps I should just choose the party most closely aligned with my interests. After all, politics will affect me directly: everything from public sector cuts to economic recovery. I should feel privileged to finally have a say in that. Whilst single issues are important and appealing, politics determine the people in power and can ultimately give effect to those issues. So, to all the young electorates out there: Greenpeace or the Green Party?