This post began as a response to Jeff in the comments to a post below. But it was getting long and waaay off topic. So I have decided to post it as a separate post.
To save you from trawling all the way through the discussion, we were basically wondering whether the SNP can afford to throw away student votes. I think we agreed that they probably can, because student votes don’t exist to a great extent anyway.
And you raise a good point about the students too. I do wonder how many of them really vote despite their protests and the like. Am I right in thinking that you were even considering not voting? If that’s the case then not much more proof is needed that student participation rates are low.
Jeff is right that I am considering not voting in the next election. It all depends on how annoyed I am at all the parties. Last time round I voted for everyone but Labour (even giving Solidarity my fourth choice!) in the local elections. Possibly in the general election I will throw my weight behind an anti-Gordon Brown tactical voting campaign since I live in his constituency. How funny would it be if he lost his seat? I can’t miss out on that opportunity!
But in general I am pretty disappointed in all of the parties. And given that I have almost zero chance of affecting the outcome anyway, I see little point in casting my vote. Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m apathetic about politics, as you are surely aware.
I can’t speak for other students of course, but I think they are much like all young people, and to an extent people in general. Some are really interested in politics and will vote in any election no matter how inconsequential. But many, many others are entirely disenchanted with politics.
There is a stereotype that students are generally heavily interested in politics. Of course there is that element of loud-mouthed self-styled radicals. But they are in a pretty small minority. Most students, I bet, could not give two hoots about party politics. Even some politics students I’ve come across can be surprisingly poorly informed.
This has something to do with blogging as well. It used to perplex me — perhaps it still does — that you do not get more students blogging about politics. After all, students are supposed to be opinionated and earnest. And they often have plenty of spare time to dedicate to this sort of thing. Plus, all of this blogging and new technology — you might expect it to be a young person’s game.
But you don’t get many student political bloggers. From the top of my head, I can count them on one hand. Maybe I can count them on two fingers — including me. I remember once a survey revealed that the average age of readers of political blogs is 40.
Even among my mostly politically aware circle of friends, I probably know almost as many non-voters as voters. I am somewhere in the middle. For the time being I vote, but I don’t blame anyone for not voting.
Funnily enough, despite the general trend that people get more interested in politics (or at least are more likely to vote) as they get older, I have moved in the opposite direction. When I was as young as possibly 12 or 13 I was more earnest and couldn’t see why anyone wouldn’t vote. Now at 22 I am jaded and cynical and am more and more likely to abstain every day.
What does it say about me that I’m jaded and cynical at the age of 22? Imagine what I’ll be like when I’m actually an old codger…
Anyone disagree with me on students and politics? I know a few students (or graduands!) will be reading this, so what do you think?