Nyasha Duri, one of Ambition’s most recent Youth Council members, shares her experience of voting for the first time in the 2015 general election.
My letter telling me I was on the electoral roll came in late December. To me, registering to vote was not something I had to think about or be talked into doing; I was really looking forward to taking part in an election for the first time and happy that I would be old enough!
I got involved in a variety of exciting, political activities in the run up to the general election. In January I was lucky enough to be filmed for a Cabinet Office feature on their new online registration system, and in March I launched Politicks; a digital platform I’m building to redefine youth political engagement.
By the time we entered May, I had tried every quiz for voters out there, from Vote For Policies, Verto, Votr, Fantasy Frontbench, Shaker Maker to iSideWith. Interestingly enough, I got a different result each time. This made me question whether we should vote purely based on policy, and instead vote for who you think is the best candidate to represent your constituency.
I spent some time reading through most of the party’s manifestos, treating them with equal amounts of scepticism as I scrolled through wondering “where are you going to get the money for that?” – a question I felt was evaded by far too many representatives on the TV debates! I also happened to receive a Trade Union and Socialist Coalition (TUSC) research leaflet when I was out of town. I really identified with their values, but unfortunately they had no candidate standing in my area.
The 7th May arrived and I set off to my local poll station. It was all quite exciting and the volunteers working there were helpful and friendly. I deliberated one last time, then pencilled in my X carefully with pride. I decided not to stay up till 7am this time round as the results were taking too long. However, when I woke I was happy to learn that my local MP, Tom Brake, had retained his post. After volunteering at the constituency office, I believe that he genuinely cares about our local area and his lovely team work very hard.
The poignancy of him being one of the eight left standing out of what was once 56 Liberal Democrats, and the only Lib Dem MP left in London has not escaped me. I also felt sympathy for Labour, the Green Party, Plaid Cymru and so on – with all the hard work they put in and hoping for a different outcome for all their efforts. From canvassing to deposits, it’s certainly not easy getting into Westminster.
The best thing about this whole election for me however was that 60% of young people voted! A significant increase from 44% in 2010. While this is really impressive, there is still a lot more that needs to be done. I intend to take action and am eager to make my contribution to the progressive Britain I want to see. Real change must take place to make sure that young people feel more positive about politics in the future.
What’s next for me? Aside from working on Politicks, I’ll be making use of a variety of youth media agencies, such as Scenes of Reasons, to keep tabs on this new government of ours and I will be counting down the days to the Mayoral Election and 2020 change. On to the next one!