It has been about a year since we voted on our future with the European Union. Now, with local elections next week and just forty days before the general election, it can certainly feel like we’ve spent more time discussing politics, than getting on with the job of it. These sentiments were neatly summed up by one voter in Bristol who stated that there is “too much politics going on.” Call me biased, but I would argue that this exercise in democracy can only be a good thing.
The latest figures show knowledge of and interest in politics has risen by 8%, as well as 59% of UK voters stating they are certain to turn out. This follows decades of falling political engagement across the western world, with disappointing turnouts and voter malaise. Without redress, trends towards political disengagement could have serious long term implications for our democracy.
Arguably, over the last twelve months the political pulse of the United Kingdom, Europe and America has been electrified by events that will shape a generation. For instance, the EU referendum saw voter turnout reach a record 72% and the first round of the French presidential elections saw 78% turnout. Say what you like about the politics, but now more than ever, voters are engaged with the process.
As a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK, I engage with parliamentarians from all over the world to discuss how we can improve the delivery of democracy. These common values will be important as we focus on becoming a truly outward looking nation, forging partnerships across the world.
However, voter fatigue is something I am mindful of as I take my campaign to the voters. The Government has followed through with the democratic decision of the country, and triggered Article 50. It is now for the public to return a strong Government, which they can united behind.
That is why, as much as I will be encouraging people to vote for Theresa May to form this Government, arguably as important, is that we ensure all vote and keep our democratic spirit alive.
Published in the East Anglian Daily Times