“The decisions are made by the people that show up!” Josiah Bartlett, the fictitious US President in The West Wing TV series, will no doubt be proved right once again on May 7th 2015.
There seems little need to rehearse stories of voter dissatisfaction here. More than half of young adults stayed away from the General Election in 2010 and hundreds of thousands have still to register this time around. What’s more, disaffection is not simply for the young.
Upon first joining Facebook I remember being asked to share my personal political affiliation. “Looking for a new kind of politics,” was the best I could do. The search for something new lead me somewhere very old. I now spend every Tuesday volunteering in the Houses of Parliament. Here I have learned that if you want to see things change you have to get stuck in.
As Ed Miliband recently pointed out in YOUTHWORK magazine, “People are cynical about politics, but change doesn’t simply come from politicians. The big gains that have been made in our country happen because people made them happen.”
The next months offer us all the opportunity to show up, get stuck in and make things happen. Not simply by letting X mark the spot on election day but by choosing to shape our future together.
Here are some ways to get started.
1. Find out what all the political parties are up to - check out what the Conservatives, Lib Dems, Greens, Labour and UKIP are proposing and give them your ideas and feedback.
2. Take the opportunity to Shape Your Future by contributing to a unique consultation for 18-35 year-olds. Hosted by the Labour party this survey enables young adults to have their say in the election campaign.
3. Get involved with Christians in Politics’ superb Show Up campaign. Get engaged with the issues and connect with the political parties in the run up to polling day.
I hope that we will do more than simply show up this year. In 2015 I pray that we will get stuck in, contribute to the big decisions, make things happen and create a new kind of politics.
Office of Baroness Sherlock OBE,
Shadow Minister for Work and Pensions, House of Lords