Politics is everywhere, so why do people watch the election come and go without batting an eyelid? Rick Edwards spoke about this exact issue at the Watershed on the 15th of January.
We’re in mid-January, not even two weeks after the Charlie Hebdo murders and just over a month since the deadly siege in Sydney. We’re in mid-January and the Rick Edwards is speaking to a small group of politically-minded media enthusiasts about his life in the media spotlight and what he’s doing now to encourage more young people to vote. If you didn’t know already, Rick doesn’t only handle the politics of Made In Chelsea at the end of season party, Rick talks in schools across the country about politics as well as presenting Free Speech which is a TV show for young people to put their questions to politicians.
Just to keep it interesting, I’ve dropped some politically themed images into this post starting with Lucy Watson.. what are the issues?
A show of hands at the beginning of the talk confirmed the attendees were more inclined to vote which surprised Rick who was used to seeing less hands raised. Why is this? Why are less people in their teens and early twenties going to vote?
[custom_heading center=”true”]”Politics is drab” [/custom_heading]
No-one specifically used those words as such but the number of times ‘grey’ was mentioned by members of the audience was more than enough to count on one hand, after referring to either the MPs or the target audience for political parties. Why don’t we get more young people into the spotlight? Well, because running to be an MP averages at around £45k, and losing equates to about £37k said Rick. I could pay for this if I worked three jobs, lived off of Kingsmill and in a cardboard box but I think my voters might cotton on to this lifestyle choice.
[custom_heading center=”true”]Connecting the dots[/custom_heading]
The amount of times I’ve heard people complain about pot holes or bus schedules. Just the other weekend I found myself sighing as a prescription which I’d waited hours for had been discontinued. This is all politics, and we need to voice these views but often we forget to connect the dots. Rick talked about an exercise which Harriet Harman does in schools where she splits a class into groups and tells them they have a wad of cash and they all have to agree to split it on different things, transport or health. Education will help understanding as well as awareness – a voter who is voting for the sake of it is not the kind of voter we want.
[custom_heading center=”true”]Things are changing[/custom_heading]
The truth is that after the Scottish referendum, 2/3 of young people have been inspired by the campaign to find out more about politics and actually I don’t blame them because Alex Salmond held his ground during those TV debates, I was seriously impressed. The key word here is inspiration, we are seeing more candidates who are likable and charismatic which is shaking off the cobwebs off of the stereotypical norm of balding, public school middle aged man. With figures like Barack Obama, female authority such as Angela Merkel and funny man, Boris Johnson I enjoy following these people and listen to the words they say. So we need more people who voice the nation’s issues.
[custom_heading center=”true”]Political twitter[/custom_heading]
The Charlie Hebdo and Martin Place shootings both showed waves of solidarity on Twitter. The worldwide response to both these devastations can be measured on Twitter with hashtags assuming gravitas like never before with #JeSuisCharlie and #IllRideWithYou.-
- #JeSuisCharlie merged cartoonist’s response to the event as well as images from the support and minute silences held across the world.
- #Illridewithyou transpired from a moment of solidarity between two girls of separate race as Rachael Jacobs approached a girl who removed her hijab saying, ‘Put it back on, I’ll walk with you’.
These hashtags are important, and they’re not only important for measuring the scale of a response or marking solidarity in the face of real diversity but they’re key in ensuring the political matter at hand is pushed right to the forefront of our awareness. The shooting of 12 people at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris pushed the question of freedom of speech to everyone’s mind in the wake of cartoonists being shot down for often controversial satirical illustrations of Muhammad, poking fun at the Islamic faith. By reading, engaging, educating and registering the perfect voting candidate happens, so surely Twitter plays a vital role in making politics accessible?
[custom_heading center=”true”]The solution?[/custom_heading]
Well, there is no clear solution unfortunately but for now Rick is focusing on education and encouraging accessibility through TV. So this is what I have concluded with myself. By social media, online news articles, blog pieces and video we’re engaging in politics every day. Instead of being voices behind a keyboard or a touch screen, we can only really be heard when we use our voice. The protests in Paris are inspiring and spoke volumes as thousands took to the street to protest, that fighting spirit which war veteran Harry Smith spoke with as he bit back the tears at the Labour Party Conference. It’s about turning our complaints into an action and seeking to find a solution in politics, but only if we find a candidate who represents those solutions. I hope inspiring politicians will come to the forefront and/or continue to thrive but for now, in 2015, I urge you to register to vote.
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