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Not Apathetic

Tell the world why you're not voting - don't let your silence go unheard

They're not voting because...

I'm 18 and just...couldn't care less

I've just turned 18 last year and I know nothing about what parties to vote for and what they stand for. They need to appeal to the youth. Politics really looks like a boring bit of sh**e.

written 15th Apr 2005

Responses

Michael replies: Politics is far from a boring bit of shite. You must have ideals, beliefs about what is the fairest way to run a country or what kinda of society you want to live in. If it really is just lack of information i would suggest a quick internet search could solve the problem.

written 15th Apr 2005

Anonymous replies: They really do need to appeal to the youth though. They really need to.

written 15th Apr 2005

Anon replies: No, they don't. I for one don't want teenagers deciding policy, thanks. You need a bit of experience first.

written 15th Apr 2005

Anonymous replies: And then when we don't vote, we get told we're idle and uncaring ignorant fools? Nice. Experience in what, exactly?

written 15th Apr 2005

Liz replies: I would love for Mr 'Anon' to share his ideas on whether the legal age for sex should be raised from 16 to 18. Surely if teenage boys and girls are legally 'allowed' to bring human life into this world and be responsible for it they also have the right to vote?

Or is 'deciding policy' a greater responsibility?

written 15th Apr 2005

Jonny C replies: Please don't complain that you know 'nothing' about what the parties stand for - you clearly know how to access web pages; try googling 'conservatives', 'labour', 'liberal democrats' (you get the idea) and reading their manifestos. Or turn on the TV. Is this election really not getting enough coverage?! As for appealing to youth - the parties do deal with a number of issues affecting young people. The Lib Dems, for instance, with their university and drugs policies, and anti-war stance, are of interest to a significant chunk of young British society. But, of course, issues seemingly boring to many young people (fiscal policy, public services, constitution) will be highly publicised because they are important and relevant to the majority of the adult population.

written 15th Apr 2005

Rachel Dorman replies: I really don't understand why at least a basic introduction into politics isn't part of the National Curriculum. I was in the same position as the person who created this post at the last general election - just turned 18, hadn't got a clue about the policies of any political parties, and unlike now I didn't have access to the internet. Sure, if I really wanted to I could have still sourced some information, the library was only an hour away on the bus. But where was the inspiration to even bother? How was I supposed to realise how important politics would be? I'm grateful to my parents and my schools for the education they provided in many other subjects, but you'd have thought that politics wasn't important in the slightest - it wasn't discussed once either at home or in the classroom when I grew up. Why is this being neglected by our elders? I didn't vote that year. I also fell out with someone who gave me the 'women did this-that-and-the-other so you could vote' speech. I know they did, I'm extremelly grateful, and also slightly in awe of them. But that was back in the days when youth were encouraged to care. I've only recently had that feeling in my heart and my gut of wanting to do something, anything, to make a difference to the world.. and all it took was a few months of discussing politics with my new boyfriend who was kind enough to give me some guidance and encourge me to think about things from a different perspective. If only my teachers or my Mum and Dad had done this 10 years earlier, I'd have hit 18 and felt I was capable of making a decision on who to vote for.

Regarding Jonny C's comment about the amount of coverage the coming election is getting, I'll take your word for it that it is being well publicised, but I wouldn't know myself as I don't watch all that much television - maybe the odd film and University Challenge and even a few minutes of the BBC news while I'm having breakfast, but I avoid the in-betweens, as one more Cillit Bang advert will probably tip me over the edge. We tell youngsters that they'll get square eyes watching the crap on TV and they they should get outside more, but then when they do just that they're criticised for having not caught the election campaign? Our anonymous poster feels that politics doesn't appeal to youth, you and I have interpretted that in different ways Jonny, I took it to mean that there's nothing drawing politics to the attention of the younger generation. I'm sure most kids and teenagers (and even the adults who think politics is a bore) would have an opinion about the majority of political subjects if the questions were presented to them in an interesting fashion, but how can a bunch of boring men in boring suits using language we're not accustomed to gather any interest? No wonder we change channel when Question Time is on TV. Make us think! Make us see why politics matters. Actually, I have seen the adverts with the one guy saying he's not interested in politics and his friend showing him that politics affects everything - more of that, please. Children are easily distracted by bright shiny things, and a lot of us don't grow out of that. Politics can't compete with Arsenal, Pokemon and Vodka & Red Bull, while it's still being presented to us in a boring square brown box. Change the packaging, market it to the people who matter. The contents will be exactly the same, as relevant to us as they always were, but at least we'll feel an urge to investigate what it's all about. And you never know, some of the 18 year olds who can't be bothered to make up their minds this year might turn out to be some of the best politicians Britain has ever seen.

written 17th Apr 2005

Andrew replies: "and just...couldn't care less": Is this not a definition of apathy?
Find another site to moan on.

written 18th Apr 2005

chris replies: Is it not ironic that theres more spin and corruption in the big play ground of westminster than the lunch time play ground of your average secondary school?

written 18th Apr 2005

Vee replies: "it wasn't discussed once either at home or in the classroom when I grew up. Why is this being neglected by our elders? "

This drives me MAD! Its the blame blame blame culture...anyone but yourself. it's YOUR responsibility to find things out, to learn more, to be a responsible adult. Yes schools and parents have a role to play, but if that role is absent (for whatever reasons) then YOU must take responsibility for your own learning.

And politics HAS been taught in schools now for at least 3 years in 'citizenship' lessons. But like with Sex Education at schools, which is statutory for all years, I bet you and/or your friends didnt listen and then they moaned about the Sex Education being useless.

Go out there. Find information yourself and stop blaming other people.

written 18th Apr 2005

David replies: re: Rachel Dorman
Grow up and get off your soap box and start being proactive and less apathetic.
It's your responsibility, you can't be spoonfed all your life!

written 20th Apr 2005

James replies: Re: Rachel Dorman
I wonder what age the people who were telling Rachel Dorman that she should have got up and done it herself are?
I've a practically identical story - I turned 18 around the time of the General Election but had zero interest in it whatsoever. I had no understanding of how politics had any effect on my life.
Those who say we should have gone out and investigated anyway - should everyone go out an investigate bladder cancer just in case their Dad is diagnosed with it? Should everyone go out and investigate how the French 'Pacs' works? Er, no - because it isn't relevent to everyone. If you honestly believe that politics isn't relevent to you, why would you suddenly feel the need to go out and investigate it? The point is that I (and I assume at least a decent portion of those my age) weren't too lazy to go out and learn about politics, we just had 'better' things to do because we didn't understand the importance of politics.
This is the first time that I have really started to get into politics, aged 23, and am starting to think that I WANT to vote, because I've slowly seen how politics is a part of everything we do (particularly motivational in that was living in France during their last Presidential Election - a scary show).
As responsible adults now we should be domonstrating to the kids of today that politics affects them, too. So yes, we need more adverts like the guy who "doesn't do politics" and explanation of where the money for things that kids like comes from. No children truly understand the value of money & politics but by peaking interest sooner, and providing information earlier we'll have better informed adults a few years down the line.
People don't just become responsible adults when they turn 18, they're still kids unless you help them grow up.
I go out with a teacher who teaches citizenship, sex ed and re and I'm betting that whoever was slagging that off hasn't been to a lesson in it - who kids are taught has changed massively since I left school only 5 years ago, these subjects have more weight, and are worthwhile and work towards filling this gap - that's why they're there - but don't expect mini Jeremy Paxman's all over the place, the same way you don't expect mini Stephen Hawkings just because we have obligatory science lessons upto age 16. However, ask most school leavers how electricity works and you would expect a decent response, ask what a secret ballot is and see if you get the same informed response. You may now, but you certainly wouldn't have 5 years ago.
In short, both Vee and David sound like they've no idea how others can be disinterested in politics, which is I imagine how most politicians feel, since it's their life - and hence why it's so hard for them to get people who aren't interested involved. Instead of just having a go at people like Rachel, you should listen to the voice of a generation and realise it for what it is, a chance to get more people invovled in politics and more people voting.

On a separate note, there are some earlier comments about not wanting teenagers to make policy. Well, I completely agree, but neither do I want just the over-40s to either, more experience can equal more jaded and more stuck in their ways. No one has all the answers, but everyone has to live in this world, and if we agree that by the age of 18 someone should have a decent enough understanding of the consequences of their decisions then everyone deserves an equal voice at that point.

written 20th Apr 2005

Original Poster replies: Hiya, I really do feel like we need to be educated. I can see some of you think we should get off our lazy arses and find out for ourselves, but there are some kids out there who don't know that they don't know about politics, and therefore needs to be made aware that it exists. Does this make any sense?

written 20th Apr 2005

Rachel Dorman replies: Vee and David, a couple of things I'd like to clear up for you both, as neither of you appear to have read/understood my post properly:

I'm talking about educating *children*. Never mind the adults - apathetic, 'couldn't care less' adults are another issue, to tackle seperately.

I agree that as adults, we should take on the responsibility of educating ourselves further, and I stated that I myself have been quite happily doing this since I reached adulthood. I haven't suggested that anyone else should be responsible for the new knowledge I gain now I'm older; I'm confused as to why David thinks I would expect to be 'spoonfed'?

Have I understood this correctly, Vee: you believe it's the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves - therefore it can only be assumed you think we shouldn't even bother having an education system at all? I mean, what are schools for if not to teach? Why should politics be any different to any other subject? I was required to study subjects at school which I consider to be specialist subjects (such as woodwork, foreign languages, and others), which is fine if you're going to use those skills later in life, and a good, fun experience even if you're not. But as politics affects everybody, with no exceptions, shouldn't this be considered at least as important as these specialist subjects?

I strongly believe that we need a good education system so that older generations can pass down knowledge, and educate the new generations so they can make decent progess in the world. Sharing knowledge is one of the reasons the human race has come so far, how can you possibly expect us to carry on developing if we don't continue to educate our children and peers?

Finally, I rather resent David's accusation of me being 'apathetic' (would I have made this post in the first place if I didn't give a shit?) and the assumption I am not 'proactive'. Don't presume to know me, you have no idea what I do with my time and I can assure you that I don't just sit around all day scratching my ass. I'd like you to know that as far as politics are concerned, I'm doing a plenty to educate myself and other people. I'd suggest that you might owe me an apology, but I wouldn't expect to receive one, as your post was not really relevant to anything I said and I don't suppose you're 'proactive' enough to bother reading this post properly either.

James, much of what you have said reflects what I have been trying to get across but couldn't quite word correctly; thank you for helping organise the thoughts in my head! You appear to have a decent insight into the current education system via your partner and I'm surprised and interested to learn that politics is being introduced in the form of 'citizenship' lessons; I'll be looking online to find out more about this as I think it's very important progress for the Curriculum.

written 20th Apr 2005

Rachel Dorman replies: Vee and David, a couple of things I'd like to clear up for you both, as neither of you appear to have read/understood my post properly:

I'm talking about educating *children*. Never mind the adults - apathetic, 'couldn't care less' adults are another issue, to tackle seperately.

I agree that as adults, we should take on the responsibility of educating ourselves further, and I stated that I myself have been quite happily doing this since I reached adulthood. I haven't suggested that anyone else should be responsible for the new knowledge I gain now I'm older; I'm confused as to why David thinks I would expect to be 'spoonfed'?

Have I understood this correctly, Vee: you believe it's the responsibility of the individual to educate themselves - therefore it can only be assumed you think we shouldn't even bother having an education system at all? I mean, what are schools for if not to teach? Why should politics be any different to any other subject? I was required to study subjects at school which I consider to be specialist subjects (such as woodwork, foreign languages, and others), which is fine if you're going to use those skills later in life, and a good, fun experience even if you're not. But as politics affects everybody, with no exceptions, shouldn't this be considered at least as important as these specialist subjects?

I strongly believe that we need a good education system so that older generations can pass down knowledge, and educate the new generations so they can make decent progess in the world. Sharing knowledge is one of the reasons the human race has come so far, how can you possibly expect us to carry on developing if we don't continue to educate our children and peers?

Finally, I rather resent David's accusation of me being 'apathetic' (would I have made this post in the first place if I didn't give a shit?) and the assumption I am not 'proactive'. Don't presume to know me, you have no idea what I do with my time and I can assure you that I don't just sit around all day scratching my ass. I'd like you to know that as far as politics are concerned, I'm doing a plenty to educate myself and other people. I'd suggest that you might owe me an apology, but I wouldn't expect to receive one, as your post was not really relevant to anything I said and I don't suppose you're 'proactive' enough to bother reading this post properly either.

James, much of what you have said reflects what I have been trying to get across but couldn't quite word correctly; thank you for helping organise the thoughts in my head! You appear to have a decent insight into the current education system via your partner and I'm surprised and interested to learn that politics is being introduced in the form of 'citizenship' lessons; I'll be looking online to find out more about this as I think it's very important progress for the Curriculum.

written 20th Apr 2005

Matt B replies: Rachel/Original

I think some other people have lost track of what this site is about. If you're not sure about who you should vote for then someone's not getting the message, and I don't mean you.
Understanding politics is not easy and your views will change over time - you might be like a labour politician and go through a 180 degree turn, who knows!
When you're younger you invariably look for clear cut divisions and in this election those are few and far between. It would be nice if the parties explained their policies clearly to accentuate these differences but if you look closely there are conditions to every answer. I'm still waiting for a politician to answer Yes or No to a question and I've been waiting decades.
try http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/vote_2005/default.stm
on the BBC as a good place to start and also read both the Guardian and Telegraph that should give you some opposing arguments; the Independents not bad either. Also try the Daily Politics on BBC 2.
Finally if you get a chance collar a candidate and ask then a couple of questions; don't let them waffle and expect a yes/no somewhere. go for something contraversial so they have to work at it.
Finally try to enjoy it; but if you don't want to vote don't. It's your right!

written 20th Apr 2005

Chris Hughes replies: Rachel Dorman, James; amen.

David, Vee, and others; I think what they (Rachel and James) are saying is that a little encouragement goes a long way. It's not about being spoonfed or blaming others, but easy access to information. There's a lot out there, and the possibilities presented to many, especially in this country, are orders of magnitude greater than times not so far gone. Why would anyone make a concerted effort to find out what is being discussed until there is some pressure on them to do so, when there are so many other things to be thinking about?

However politics really is a very important 'issue'. Nicely summed up in the aformentioned advert, it affects pretty much everything we do, but it certainly doesn't feel that way, to me at least. Instead it is a very distant thing, except in certain local issues, like planning permission (I live in a small village), or those of national importance, like the recent wars. Even then, our voices rarely seem to be heard, and the decisions are made contrary to the opinion of pretty much everyone I know. I do realise (as much as I can) the difficulty of the task facing those in government, but they really need to spend more time sorting the country out. And by this I mean making the government actually work rather than tacking on more and more legislation to counter each new problem, and hide the last. Reform has to happen someday, why not today?

Incidentally, I have been browsing a number of parties sites this evening, and I have noticed that the parties will tend to shy away from controversial issues, which I think is a little disappointing :|

And finally, up proportional representation!

written 20th Apr 2005

Original Poster replies: I would love to vote. But I don't know what party stands for what,and they all seem to be so "false" and I'm afraid that if I don't vote, then I'm going to sit there for four years knowing that my vote could have done something and yet I sat there and did nothing.

written 21st Apr 2005

David replies: I have sat for just over an hour trying to reply to your message in a reasonable and constructive manner and I hope that you arent offended in anyway by this posting.
Ok, I accept that there was little or no point to my original post; it was purely a comment on your comments as the opening paragraph of your message smacked of apathy.
Personally I wasnt bothered who I voted for when I turned eighteen, I did though but not for a party I would vote for this time round (I am not saying in any way this makes me better than you). Whereas you sounded like you wanted to vote. You said that you resent my comment that I felt you were apathetic, but you say that you could have found out more information on the subject but the library was an hours bus ride away!
Chris Hughes dont you think posters and TV adverts are easy access to information? That is what I mean when it comes to spoon feeding information. I agree that people tend not to do anything until it affects them personally, but any eighteen year old, five years ago would have been aware of the impact higher education fees were having on students and if that didnt affect them personally then they would probably know someone that it did.
Isnt that good enough reason to be aware of what the political powers that be can or cannot do for you, and shouldnt that be reason enough to have inspiration to get down to the polling station and vote?
By saying political presentation could be dressed up to appeal to the first time voter by competing with Arsenal, Pokemon and vodka red bull I think would be extremely patronising to the intended audience of seventeen to eighteen year olds, I may be wrong.
When I turned eighteen like my friends we wanted to be seen and treated like adults. My outlook has changed, but how many eighteen year olds do you think would watch, listen or take notice of a poster with Chris Moyles banging on about the Labour, Tory or Lib Dem manifesto and how these issues may affect you?
If you are interested to vote, like it sounds you were, I believe you have to get out there and do some research yourself.

written 21st Apr 2005

Vee replies: Wow.
Let me start by saying I am a teacher. Secondary. Not just a teacher of RE citizenship and Sex Ed as you put it, but I am in charge of the Citizenship education at my school. And the reason I was and still am irate with people who blame adults for not teaching them about politics is that we DO. That's what I spend my week DOING. I get annoyed when people come on here and blame adults for not having taught them about politics when they are younger. The blame culture. that there is an excuse for everything. There isnt. If your teachers are no good, if you schools never taught you, if you discover you are ignorant of something DONT come on here and moan. That does nothing. Go out there are DO something about it and FIND OUT. That's what I did, and that's why I have the job I do.

written 21st Apr 2005

Original Poster replies: For goodness sake, I'm not blaming anyone. But don't you realise there are kids out there who don't know that they don't know?

written 21st Apr 2005

Vee replies: I dont think that is the case...the past few years political education through the form of 'citizenship' lessons/ classes or days has been compulsory in our state schools. The situation in 2005 is very different to when I was at school. If they choose not to listen then the powers for schools to make them listen only extends to setting detentions/ extra homework. I think that the problem of political apathy in the young cannot be landed at the fault of the schools or the education system. It's deeper than that.

The original post showed an awareness that you don't know enough. The next port of call is to go FIND out - in the 21st century it is not difficult.

I know plenty of young people who are interested in a range of political issues - both local, national and international. But I also know many whose interest in politics is limited to merely voting for parties promising the legalisation of cannabis etc. There is a real danger in parties deciding just to 'appeal to the youth' and those youngsters disaffected and uninterested by 'boring sh*te' politics. The world is not always fun fun fun. These issues are serious issues. Young people need to be educated with basic political knowledge and empowered with the skills to find out more at a later date.

May 5th is not a Pop Idol vote.

written 21st Apr 2005

Rachel Dorman replies: Woah, hold on a minute... Vee's just said "Young people need to be educated with basic political knowledge and empowered with the skills to find out more at a later date." What's with the sudden u-turn? You had a right go at me for my first post on this threat, even though this was the exact message I was trying to get across! Maybe I didn't word it very well, but this is exactly what I was trying to say.

I'd just like to add a small apology for having criticised the National Curriculum for not including politics (in any form), as I wasn't aware that this change had been made in the last few years and I hadn't thought to check on this fact before commenting. I do realise that most teachers work very hard for their students' benefit, and I can understand Vee's annoyance that I and others have assumed nobody's making the effort - just like I was annoyed about assumptions that fellow posters made about me. Sorry Vee. I'd like to think kids will now have politics waved under their noses even if only briefly while they're still at school, just enough to gather some interest and for that interest to hopefully build up until they reach adulthood. If they choose to ignore it, that's entirely their decision, I just don't think it's wise to ignore the importance of politics and brush it under the carpet, and then expect teenagers to leave school and suddenly realise there's a gap in their knowledge that they have to fill. Obviously, I'm not the only that feels that way, if the government is now introducing this new subjuct into schools.

written 21st Apr 2005

Rachel Dorman replies: Edit: that was supposed to be 'thread', not 'threat', up there in the first paragraph of my last post.

written 21st Apr 2005

Vee replies: Thanks Rachel! Sorry about sounding like I was getting at you...not at all! it's just I see the blame culture all around and it gets me soooo annoyed!

I hope that citizenship education continues to be useful to these kids, and at least set them on the right path. My year 12 kids and I did the quiz on whoshouldyouvotefor.com (or something) in history AS today and it was quite an eyeopener for them! They WANT to know...well they do. They're ace kids in an v v v difficult innercity north of england school. but they go find things out for themselves too. Yes i want to reach the kids who dont have the dinnertable convos with their parents. But its so hard when they switch off even before you've begun.

written 21st Apr 2005

Pete replies: I wish I was 18 again :-(

written 29th Apr 2005

trackback replies:

written 16th May 2005

Tiger43 replies: To poster........You must unlearn what you have learned about politics and do your own independent study of the subject. May sound boring, and some of it is. But if you really want to know more you must put in the effort to find out for yourself.

written 17th May 2005

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