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1st March 2024

A year of elections: Has politics turned into a joke?

Prepare for a whirlwind year filled with elections. Yet, amidst the political frenzy, are young people becoming increasingly disillusioned with politicians?
A year of elections: Has politics turned into a joke?
Credit: Clay Banks @ Unsplash

Ah, 2024 – the year of never-ending elections. This year will see more elections than ever before. Yet Rishi Sunak’s avoidance of setting a date for the UK’s next general election is enough to make your head spin, leaving us all wondering when the inevitable will finally be confirmed. As if that isn’t exhausting enough, brace yourselves for the sequel nobody wants – round two of Trump vs. Biden. Cue the collective sigh of disappointment.

Let’s face it, politics has become a complete joke lately. The cost of living is through the roof, and it feels like we’re constantly being ignored by the very people who are supposed to represent us.

So, let’s start with the big US election happening on the 5 November. It’s been a political brawl among Republicans lately, with contenders like Vivek Ramaswamy and Nikki Haley scrambling to secure the GOP nomination for November’s showdown. But amidst the chaos, all eyes remain fixated on the ongoing saga between Trump and Biden, particularly as opinion polls take centre stage. The fact that Trump still holds a shot at clinching the Republican nomination is beyond comprehension to me.

I mean, have Americans forgotten the absolute disaster of COVID during Trump’s term? And don’t even get me started on his ludicrous suggestion for Russia to attack NATO allies who don’t spend enough on defence. Seriously, who let this guy run again?

Let’s set aside Trump’s COVID debacle for a moment and tackle the big issue staring us right in the face. Trump is 77, Biden is 81; if either of them manage to secure electoral victory, they’ll be well into their early-to-mid 80s by the end of their second term. Frankly, the thought of octogenarians steering the ship for another four years doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence.

What kind of message does this send to young people? Granted, you have to be 35 to run for President, but we need a fresh set of faces who have students’ priorities at heart and can positively shape graduates’ futures- for starters, sorting out student debt and tackling the climate crisis. How much longer must we endure watching seniors, well beyond their retirement years, pretend to address the issues facing students when their efforts fall woefully short?

Now, turning our attention to the upcoming UK general election slated for 2024. Although the latest possible date for Rishi Sunak to announce the election is January 2025, he has already confirmed it for the latter half of this year – and let’s face it, it’s long overdue. We’ve had fifteen years of austerity, nurses resorting to food banks, doctors and teachers striking, and train cancellations becoming a monthly ordeal. It’s beyond infuriating. I swear, if the Conservatives are voted in again, I’m packing my bags for Australia.

The Tories have undeniably fallen out of favour with students and young people, and last year’s local elections in Manchester spoke volumes. Labour swept in, nabbing a staggering 29 out of 32 seats. But here’s the kicker – Fallowfield, a hotspot for students, had the lowest turnout of all Manchester councils, with only 18.35% of eligible voters bothering to show up at the polls. Political disillusionment among young people is glaringly evident.

It’s clear that none of the major parties have the best interests of the youth at heart. Just take Starmer’s U-turn on his vow to eliminate tuition fees if he seized power. It’s a slap in the face to every young voter who is studying at university or wishing to attend in the next few years. While I’m confident that Starmer will win the next general election, considering the turmoil we’ve endured with Brexit and the escalating cost of living under the Tories, politicians must step up and do better. We need leadership that addresses urgent issues with real solutions, not just empty promises.

What we’re witnessing more and more among young people is a concerning trend of decreasing engagement and lower voter turnouts, particularly among students. This year presents a crucial opportunity to voice your opinions and help shape the trajectory of the next five years. After enduring years of hardship, from skyrocketing inflation rates to endless strikes, it’s time to make your voice heard and demand the changes you want to see in the UK.

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