Oliver Duff

i Editor's Letter: The lost voters

 

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We “splash” today’s i on the news that an estimated 1 in 4 young people have been lost from the electoral register, relinquishing the right to vote.

Don’t mistake this for apathy. At worst, it is disaffection with Westminster politics – and the caricature of grown men squabbling like chimpanzees that does such a disservice to those MPs who carry out critical work for their constituents or departments.

At the very time we should be making it easier to vote – exploring the potential for using smartphones and computers, to help the disabled, the busy and the distracted – changes to the electoral register later this year will present new inconveniences to groups such as students. The NUS President Toni Pearce addresses this point succinctly in today's i.

At last week’s first ever iStudents debate, held in Cardiff, the overriding feeling about Westminster politics was not apathy, but frustration.

I hope that today’s front-page news truly worries Mssrs Cameron, Clegg and Miliband – but I fear it does not.  If you do not vote, you do not matter.

The most powerful way of making  every vote count would be a form of proportional representation, but the Coalition has cooked and eaten that goose. I had reservations about extending the vote to 16 but have overcome them, and now think we should explore anything that might help to inject energy into our politics, anything which might stop that disconnect opening so soon in people’s lives.

We don’t necessarily need more young people in Westminster, but more young people who have had jobs away from politics would be welcome.  Likewise many, many more women. MPs should be ashamed to tediously parrot party soundbites until we change channel. And we in the media are culpable of shooting at any politician who pokes their head above the parapets. i will have more to say on all this soon – and we welcome your contributions to the debate.

i@independent.co.uk

Twitter.com: @olyduff

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