How NOT to get votes

H

I wasn’t going to write this post, I was intending to make a lovely post about the transition into adulthood, with my 18th Birthday, but I wanted to write this based on something which happened to me recently. It all started yesterday…

It was my birthday. So I had a lot of cards and stuff to open. Through the post a letter arrives, and I didn’t know what it was, it was a white envelope, with my name ink stamped, or printed I’m not sure. The letter was thick, and as I opened it, I find a card. I had like 40 cards already in my house, all in the living room; it is quite a site I must admit, but what did I find in this card:

‘WISHING YOU A HAPPY 18TH BIRTHDAY, FROM WHISTON SOUTH AND CRONTON LABOUR PARTY’. This card came with a folded sheet which was a membership application for the Labour Party. Wow. My Mum initially laughed it off, and I did too, but looking at it, I got more and more angry with this card. I felt like my birthday was being used to recruit me into the Labour Party. That is not good. I was given an impersonal, shameless promotion by a political party, for my birthday no less, and a plea to join said Labour Party. Now, some people will say ‘That never happened to me’ well then you’re lucky.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I see why it was done. I’m 18. I am voting in the General Election this year, so I am a prime target for these Political Parties. The 18-24 vote is one of the lowest voting age groups in the UK. In the last General Election, it was 44% of all 18-24 year olds in the UK; male or Female, who voted in the General Election. If you look at figures, generally, the turnout in age groups increase as one get’s older, I think 55+ had a turnout of 76%. Political parties have always had trouble appealing to younger voters, who say that the parties don’t care about their needs. I throw this at you, surely if you voted for a party, they’d need to care about your needs. Old people vote Tory because Tories are very good with pensioners, and Lib Dems are good with students, because their policies are very good for students. Parties appeal to where their vote is the strongest, so by not voting for them, the majority party aren’t going to care what you think or what you want.

Now, how does this relate to the birthday card I was sent? Well, in my constituency, Labour are the majority party. It is a safe seat. However, I think they see competition, from the Greens and UKIP; who are also running for the St Helens South and Whiston Seat in May’s election. While I don’t see Labour losing, I see Labour getting a bloody nose. They’re going to lose a good chunk of the vote to UKIP, amongst older voters, whilst younger first time voters will be attracted to the Green Party. It probably won’t be enough to win, seeing how apathetic the turnout has been in my constituency (52% turnout last time), that remaining 48%; for the most part, will not vote, even if UKIP or Greens offer and alternative from the Big 3. But nonetheless, it will be a wake up for Labour if they lose some of the surplus. So what do they do? They appeal to people like me. Young, first time voters.

I accept that, but I don’t agree with it. If anything, Labour has lost me as a Voter. And while I’d likely not vote for the Conservatives or UKIP, I certainly don’t want to vote for a party that tries to get people on their side by bribing them with birthday cards with a membership form. Political Parties need to understand that you don’t appeal to your electorate like THIS. You need to appeal directly. You can’t use birthday cards, or celebrity endorsements, or even trash talking to get your votes. You need to speak to people like me, and all the other 18 year olds, for that is how you get votes. Sending people letters like this is how NOT to get votes.

About the author

Ben

Since 2012, Benjamin Attwood has written for the If you Ask Ben blog.

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