June 8th 2017
Today I voted in an election for the first time in my life. I didn’t vote in the first general election for which I was eligible because I did not have a huge interest in politics. The truth is, I still don’t have a huge interest in politics. I didn’t vote in the UK’s European Union Referendum, because I didn’t think my vote would make a difference, and to be fair to me, it didn’t.
And then, Prime Minister Theresa May called a snap election, and everyone started talking about politics, and I suddenly felt very uneducated. Although of course I can appreciate that politics affects me, I can’t say that it interests me very much. In fact, it kind of annoys me. But I’ve recently begun to learn that it can be important.
The problem though, is that my political education has been at the hands of my twitter timeline. I’ve learnt politics just by reading and interpreting data and facts as they are presented to me by people more knowledgeable by myself. That’s usually a pretty rock solid method of learning information (it’s how primary, secondary and further education works), although in this particular instance it was a flawed methodology.
You see, all of these facts were presented with bias.
I learnt pro-Corybyn facts from pro-Corbyn supporters, and learnt why I should dislike Theresa May and the Conservatives.
I didn’t read the manifests, but I looked at the numbers. I don’t understand politics, but I do understand numbers. To me, the Labour numbers made sense. The Conservative numbers didn’t (partly because they didn’t exist, and then started changing). So I sided with Labour, for that reason, and partly because Jeremy Corbyn is an Arsenal fan. (kidding)
So I was #TeamLabour. But then I took one of those quizzes (uk.isidewith.com) that presents to you policies and you say whether you agree or disagree with them. The quiz told me that, based on my answers, I should vote for the Liberal Democrats, because they are the party whose policies I most align with.
I do however have slight issues with the quiz that I took. The wording of its questions made the obviously Conservative answer sound particularly unsavoury. So I think it was weighted in some way to the left.
And then, I typed my postcode into one of those ‘How to beat the Tories’ checkers, and it told me that the best chance of beating the Tories in my area was to vote Liberal Democrats. That’s called tactical voting.
I think tactical voting undermines democracy.
Because you’re not voting for who you think is the correct party to lead the country. And that’s wrong, in my opinion.
That being said, when I walked into the polling station this afternoon I planned to vote for the Liberal Democrats.
One of the downsides of social media is that you end up curating this echo chamber of opinions with which you agree. So for me, all the tweets I saw were pro-Labour (with the exception of George). Every poll I saw had Labour with 70+% of the vote, and everyone I spoke to is/was voting Labour.
The reason for that is because I’d guess primarily because Jeremy Corbyn and the Labour party has been very smart by targeting under-25s. I think they figured out that the only way they could overthrow the Tories is by improving the voter turnout for under 25s.
in 2015 the turnout of under 25s was only 43%, and I was one of those who didn’t show up. Running the numbers, with a circa 60% turnout in 2017, Labour could do it, so that’s why they went after young people, and why my twitter timeline was a digitalised Corbyn rally.
I thought I’d be more nervous when I went to the polling station to vote. But I wasn’t. I was a bit confused because I’d never done it before, but I just walked in, handed over my polling card, put a cross in the box and it was done. I walked in there expecting to vote for the Liberal Democrats, but I couldn’t do it.
Until tomorrow, I voted for Labour.