Illustration by Hannah Robinson
The Prime Minister could not have picked a better time for a general election. Slap bang in the middle of exam season, just as every stressed student retreats into a studious form of hibernation in the library, we’re going to the polls. As if we didn’t have enough on our plates already, now we are being asked to think about the infuriating, nail-biting, anger-inducing phenomenon that is the political situation in this country.
The prospect of plodding down to the polling station, in the cold and the dark, when you could be tucked up in the warm, enjoying some Christmas cheer over a nice glass of mulled wine may seem abhorrent. It certainly does to me. Surely, elections weren’t made to be run in December? Somebody obviously didn’t get the memo.
Timing aside, voting in the upcoming election could not be more important. We all know what the main issue on the table will be: Brexit. After three years of back and forth between Brussels and Westminster, it’s time (once again) to take the issue to the people. Now with a choice of various options – Johnson’s Withdrawal Agreement, the pledge of the Remain Alliance to ‘Stop Brexit’ and the pledge of a second referendum from Labour – there are a number of avenues on the agenda. Whether you want the withdrawal agreement to pass, remain to win out, or the chance to have your say in another referendum, get out there and vote. Brexit has arguably been positioned as the main issue upon which this election will be fought.
And yet, it’s not. While the importance of Brexit cannot be understated, we should not forget that the parliament we choose on December 12 is the parliament which will see us through the next five years. The volatility of the British political system over the past four years has confused things. Over the course of my (almost) four years at university, I will have seen three parliaments, two prime ministers, and will have voted in two general elections – in comparison to my mum, who spent her four undergraduate years under one PM: Margaret Thatcher. On top of this, the face of parliament is set to have a complete make-over. With the number of MPs stepping down steadily rising, the parliament of 2019 is set to look vastly different, regardless of the overall result. With a wealth of new, perhaps inexperienced, and certainly unfamiliar faces, it’s up to the people to decide what exactly our new parliament will look like. So, get out there and vote to have your say on who governs us for the first half of the 2020s.
This election will decide how we move forward in terms of climate change, an issue which has been sidelined due to the all-encompassing phenomenon that is Brexit. Students marched for their future only a few short months ago; it’s an issue which is not going anywhere. Don’t let that monumental day slide into the background, relegated merely to Instagram stories or Facebook posts. Getting out there in the cold and casting your vote could see the changes students called for on September 20 enacted.
Exercising your right to vote is immensely important. Young people are often assumed to be nonchalant about politics; too consumed by social media, Netflix or partying to be fussed about who runs the country. This could not be further from the truth. Prove the establishment wrong by putting on your warmest coat, hat and gloves, grabbing your friends, your flatmates, your coursemates and your neighbours, and heading down to the polling station. It takes five minutes, is incredibly exciting and will provide you with a much-needed break from that dark corner of the library you have been confined to for hours. Vote in this election and have your say. It is so important that you do.