Politics is polarising and sometimes there is no denying its toxicity. Every Wednesday this is on full display during the Prime Minister's Question Time. Insults are hurled from both sides. Boris Johnson has called the former leader of the opposition a ‘chlorinated chicken’ and the current opposition leader has called that same Prime Minister's premiership a ‘con game’. A piece of scrutiny with the primary objective of criticising the work of the government has become a spectacle which politicians use to undermine their opponents. If this is how the government is held accountable, it is easy to become apathetic towards politics.


Over the last few decades, there has been a clear decline in political engagement in the UK. In the 2019 general election, only 67.3% of Brits went to their local polling station compared to 83.9% in 1950. This demonstrates the rise in apoliticism and general ambivalence towards politics.


Yet, many who claim to be ‘apolitical’ are insulted on leftist social media. Their critics cite the fact that universal suffrage is a relatively new phenomenon as the UK only established electoral equality in 1928: Therefore voting is a privilege that one should not dismiss. Others hammer home the argument that voting is the most powerful tool we possess to incite change within our country.


But does it matter? Do politicians really care about us? 


Our political system can mean that our votes are worthless. If a person lives in a safe seat it generally means that their vote will not sway the outcome of their MP. In addition, FPTP almost guarantees that Labour or the conservative party will be the only parties with real power; demonstrated perfectly in 2015 when UKIP gained 3.8 million votes but only one seat in the House of Commons. Furthermore, ideas of direct democracy have been criticised for millennia. Thinkers as wise as Plato and Confucius argued against similar systems, denoting the idea that universal public voting systems are inherently flawed.


Despite all of this, voting is essential. To many our political system may seem broken, but as Churchill famously stated, ‘Democracy is the worst form of government- except for all the others that have been tried’. It is the most direct way to show who and what we believe in and give our leaders some form of legitimacy. 


When broaching the subject of political engagement with two students, they had intriguing insights.


Politics student Niav E commented, ‘I believe that it is not right to enforce your opinions on others. I also believe that certain people do not have the education around certain political parties necessary to vote sensibly, so I would rather they abstain’.


Economics student Charlotte C expressed a very different opinion stating, ‘ I do not understand why people would not have an opinion on something that affects them so much’. 


Although people must do their research before voting, I would be inclined to agree with Charlotte C. We cannot afford to be indifferent. All hope may seem lost, and our votes may seem worthless, but some say is better than no say whatsoever. We are at a crossroads in history. Our electing of MPs will dictate what happens to our cost of living, our environment and those seeking asylum in our country. It has never been more important to share our opinions. So I implore you to argue your point and vote for your ideas. It may seem pointless but it is essential in bringing about change.