Tomorrow’s the big day, guys and girls! It’s the General Election!
We’ve had a number of brilliant YA authors write guest posts on the things you should consider when voting tomorrow.
Non Pratt, author of ‘Truth Or Dare’, discussed the things that teens ACTUALLY need from the election in her incredible article. Now it’s the turn of a bright new star in the world of YA, Catherine Barter.
Haven’t heard of Catherine yet? Well you should have. Her latest book ‘Troublemakers’ is an absolute must for any woke member of Gen Z. The story follows 15-year-old, Alena, as she begins to discover activism and politics in a complicated world of missing mothers, protective older brothers and terrorist threats which are closer to home than she knows.
With that in mind, if you’re voting tomorrow (perhaps for the first time ever!) here are some very important questions Catherine Barter wants you to ask yourself…
Voting on Thursday? Questions to ask yourself
What do I care about?
We can often find ourselves surrounded by people who all seem to think the same thing politically, especially online. We control who we follow on social media, and it’s easy enough to make sure you never see opinions you disagree with, unless it’s something everybody’s quote-tweeting so they can laugh at it. Amidst all the noise: listen to your own voice. Your vote is yours.
WHY do I care about this?
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t question your own perceptions. The media is very good at telling us what we should be worried about, and politicians are often good at tapping in to those fears. It’s easy to think that the most important issues are those that are talked about the most in the media. Twenty-four-hour news coverage can make it seem that terrorism is the biggest threat to the country right now. Domestic violence kills more people in the UK, but government funding for domestic abuse services gets far less attention. Don’t let the media decide what you get to care about.
Which party best reflects the world I want to live in?
There’s not long left, so once you’ve decided on the issues that matter, cut through the coverage and go straight to the manifestos – all linked to in Non Pratt’s excellent election piece here! The differences between the major parties are clearer than they’ve been in a long time. There’s a real choice to make.
Who are you actually voting for?
When you only ever see the party leaders on TV it’s easy to forget, but you’re not directly electing the next Prime Minister. You’re deciding who you want to represent you in Parliament. You (probably) won’t be asked to vote again for five years: in the mean time, your MP will be voting on policy on your behalf. Find out how your current MP has voted in the past. Do you agree with their decisions? (And after the election, don’t forget – even if you didn’t vote for them, it’s still their responsibility to represent you, so keep letting them know what you care about. If you write to them, they will write back.)
Can’t vote? You’re not powerless
If you’re too young to vote, don’t despair. A lot of things are at stake in this election, but power doesn’t only lie with governments. Big corporations have HUGE amounts of power over people’s lives, too, and you can challenge them at any age. Ask who made your clothes, or where your food comes from, or whether your favourite online retailer pays their taxes. Your political power doesn’t start and end in a ballot box!
In her awesome and inspiring book ‘Hope in the Dark’ by Rebecca Solnit writes that governments and courtrooms are “almost never where change begins, only where it ends up.” As important as elections are, governments are often playing catch-up with social change that happens on the ground.
LGBTQ rights, for instance, have made enormous progress in the UK in the last thirty years, but they weren’t a gift from the government: changes in social norms and attitudes came about slowly through the work of activists, artists, and individuals living their lives as they wanted.
Climate change, disability rights, funding for mental healthcare, the right to an education or to an affordable home: these issues only end up on the table because people shout out about them.
Living well and compassionately and advocating among your friends and family, your online and offline communities, for the type of world you want to live in—these are all ways to change the world. Social change isn’t as easy to measure as a change in government, but it matters, and everybody can be part of it.
Want to find out more about ‘Troublemakers’ by Catherine Barter? Of course you do! You can find out more information by clicking here.