Ignore Russell Brand: Vote and make MPs notice you, says think tank

Political parties are more likely to tilt their policies and economic decisions towards groups who turn out at the ballot box than those who do not

People who do not vote are more likely to face public spending cuts and reduction in household incomes, a leading think tank reports today.

Political parties are more likely to tilt their policies and economic decisions towards groups who turn out at the ballot box than those who do not, the IPPR says. As a result, it leads to a "vicious cycle of disaffection" because low turnout groups feel politicians are not listening to their concerns, and this makes them even less likely to vote.

The report gives a sobering focus to Russell Brand's call for people not to vote because, he claims, it "changes nothing". In fact, older and richer voters have "disproportionate influence at the ballot box". The IPPR says Brand, and Jeremy Paxman, who also admitting to not voting, are from sectors over-represented in our democracy, but the danger is that younger, less well-off people might take their advice.

The report's co-author Guy Lodge said: "Russell Brand is wrong when he says voting changes nothing. Political parties have no real incentive to pay attention to those groups in society – often the young and the less affluent – who do not vote.

"This explains why the Government felt able to scrap policies that benefit the young, such as the educational maintenance allowance, while protecting benefits for the elderly. It is only by voting that people get a chance to have their voice heard."

The IPPR analysed voter turnout among different income and age groups at the 2010 election and how these demographics fared in that year's spending review. Those groups with the lowest turnout rates – the youngest and the poorest – faced cuts of 20 per cent in their annual household income, while those who were more likely to vote – older and richer voters – saw their budgets fall by 12 per cent.

Meanwhile, those aged 16 to 24 faced cuts to services worth 28 per cent of their annual household income, compared to 10 per cent for those aged 55 to 74.

"The cuts have disproportionately affected the young and the poor – precisely those groups that vote with least frequency," says the report. "More worryingly, unequal turnout unleashes a vicious cycle of disaffection and under-representation among those groups. This downward spiral risks permanently excluding these citizens from electoral life... and thus threatens a central claim of democracy: that every citizen's preference, no matter their status, should count equally."

Turnout has fallen among the young and the least affluent: at the 1987 election, there was just a four-point gap in voter turnout rates between the highest income group and the poorest, but by the 2010 election the gap was 23 points. In 2010, only 44 per cent of 18- to 24-year-olds voted, while 76 per cent of those aged 65 and over cast their vote, a gap of 32 per cent. In 1970, the gap between the two groups was 18 per cent.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
tv
Sport
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Voices
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
music
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Sport
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
art
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine