The European elections are our chance to change the system
PUBLISHED: 15:39 20 May 2019 | UPDATED: 15:57 20 May 2019
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Every vote counts in the European elections. If young people turn out they can prevent their futures becoming a continuation of the past, argues DANIEL TAYLOR.
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What was unthinkable only a couple of months ago is now about to take place: European elections are coming. During the 2016 referendum campaign the EU was painted with a distinctly undemocratic brush - but this, here, is democracy in action as we elect MEPs to represent the United Kingdom in the European Parliament.
Unlike UK general elections, which follow the first past the post voting method, EU elections use a system of proportional representation. This is an important distinction, and crucially means, in these elections, every vote counts. There are no safe seats. You can truly have your say.
Young people are frequently accused of failing to contribute to political discourse. But given that we are often told that we lack the experience or knowledge to be taken seriously, this is hardly a surprise. To add injury to insult, UK politicians and their policies very rarely represent our views, leading to a perception of politics as both difficult and pointless.
Of course, it's not only the system that is to blame. Arguably, if young people had exercised their right to vote in the past we might be in a position where we are adequately represented. But with nothing representative to vote for, it's a vicious cycle.
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The European parliamentary elections provide a chance to break this cycle. This time we can make ourselves heard. It is imperative that young people act and register to vote. By demonstrating our numbers in these elections, we can send a message to our politicians in Westminster: that we care about this country's future.
With politics dominated by Brexit this has never been more important. Thus far, the Conservatives have steadily pandered towards the right-wing of their party, whilst Labour's frontbench has been consistently unable to offer any form of meaningful opposition; instead continuing to fudge a position of unconstructive ambiguity. Amid the chaos, I've never felt more politically homeless. It is, therefore, exciting that EU elections provide me with the opportunity to vote for a party that represents issues important to me, rather than feeling that I must compromise around the lesser of two evils.
Crucially, these polls come at a time when the government maintains that the "will of the people" has remained unchanged since the 2016 referendum. Similarly, Farage and his Brexit party would like you to believe that leaving the EU in anything other than a "No Deal" scenario would be a betrayal of democracy. However, it is the dishonesty of their campaign that is the truest form of betrayal. The Brexit they now want did not feature in the referendum campaign. Yet they continue to sell their new vision, without any hint of a coherent plan for delivery, despite the inevitable political and economic chaos that would ensue.
This far-fetched narrative is, however, patently short-sighted. It ignores the one million people who marched through London demanding a confirmatory referendum, the 6 million signatures on a petition to revoke Article 50, and recent polling indicating a lead for Remain of between four and 10 percentage points. There is an abundance of evidence to suggest that the British people have changed their minds. Through these elections, there is an opportunity to demonstrate how they really feel and to show that the only way to move on will be via a confirmatory referendum.
Turnout is key. It is vital that young people, across the country, go out and vote. Brexit will drastically and disproportionately affect our futures. We will lose the ability to live, work and love freely across 27 of our neighbouring countries. We will see a narrowing of our horizons rather than a broadening of our perspectives, and this at a time when the issues we are most concerned about require global cooperation. Climate change, antibiotic resistance, rising inequality - all are problems that we cannot solve on our own.
The future doesn't have to be a continuation of the past. This is our chance to change the system for the better. We can be a part of a politics that revolves around hope. But first, we must engage. I have to vote. You have to vote. Young people need to turn up in greater numbers than ever before, and vote. Together we can make a difference.
- Daniel Taylor is an Our Future, Our Choice campaigner.
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