Three years of my life as an EU student of English Literature at the University of East Anglia,England.
The UK General Election will take place in a couple of days (Thursday 7th of May) and although I don’t want to talk about politics on my blog, I feel like I have to write about it and voting in general.
A few months ago, I registered to vote in the UK but wasn’t sure if I’d be able to since I’m French and have only been living in England since September. I was very surprised (and happy) when I received my poll card! Right now, I’m a bit confused and not certain whether I’ll be allowed to vote on Thursday or not. I just read that EU people living in the UK could only vote for local elections and some referendums.
Recently, me and my friends have spent a lot of time talking about the election! On top of that, UEA really encourages all the students to think about what voting means and why it matters so much.
I’ve seen tons of posters in the streets of Norwich too (something I’ve never seen in France — it might be forbidden).
But I have also heard of students and many people who will not vote.
To me, voting is very important. And I’m not even into the whole “women fought for our right to vote not so long ago so you should vote” argument. I totally understand that it is a choice and that people can choose not to vote (it’s the same in France by the way). But I think abstention is very dangerous and completely useless most of the time. I’m sick of hearing people say “I don’t like politics and don’t trust any of the parties anyway so I won’t vote”. Who trusts politicians? We all know that many of the promises on their manifestos will never work. Not because the government is plotting against us, but simply because it’s not that easy to rule a country and make things fair.
I believe that the most clever thing to do is to go and vote. No matter what. Even if you have to vote for the “least horrible” party. I’ve heard so many people say they don’t want to have to vote for a party they don’t really like or agree with. I would do it. I would vote for people I don’t like if it means it might stop people I hate even more from taking control of the country.
Tons of people don’t realise the impact voting may have, but thinking about it is very important. Most parties have something to say about tuition fees for instance. Some parties want to try to bring them down to £6,000 per year instead of £9,000. They also want to implement a better loan system for postgraduate courses. It won’t change anything for those who have already started studying at university, but it will affect your younger siblings or cousins and all the future generations. Some parties have plans to help young people find jobs more easily. Do you ever worry about these things?
Even if, like me, you don’t understand much about taxes and many other policies, I’m sure you can see the importance of voting if it affects simpler things that you can experience like university or your career prospects.
For these reasons, I think voting matters a lot and I urge you to go to vote on Thursday and at any other time in your life.
EDIT: The Union made an awesome video about why international students should also vote in the UK! You can find the video here.