2017 must be the year of redirection | The Friday Article

December is a month which always prompts reflection. It’s a time when we all look back at the New Year’s Resolutions we made in January and then subsequently forgot about, whilst once again scrutinising the news stories which broke over the past 12 months.

The past year was a one of fear, loss and division, but as the New Year offers us the opportunity to hurl our favourite expletive at 2016, we must not put it in a box and simply move on. We all know that 2017 will likely involve some aftershocks from key political events this year (those being Trump and Brexit, of course), but we must be ready, and use the lessons of 2016 to prepare ourselves.

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Photo: Megan Trace on Flickr (changes have been made). Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/2.0/legalcode.

UK politics is like a soap opera full of unnecessary drama that none of us want to see, where the theatrical Prime Minister’s Questions is like an argument on the cobbles of Coronation Street. However, with any soap opera, tuning in at the wrong time leads us scratching our heads and wondering what on earth is going on. Yet, when it comes to British politics, we only have to thank our vote to leave the European Union in June 23 for shaking up and redefining the system. Now, the soap opera that is the UK political scene has gone right back to episode one. This is the time for young people to get interested in public affairs.

One can only hope that 18-25 year olds are still passionate about the subject after Brexit, as the historic vote determines how our future pans out. Although, whilst leave voters will keep a close eye on the government’s plans for our exit, the question of whether those who backed remain continue to be involved in politics is debatable.

A YouGov poll earlier this year revealed that 71% of 18-25 year olds voted to stay and 64% of 65 and overs backed the leave vote. It was a poll (or a variant of it) which made its way onto social media after the vote was announced and numerous people made the remark about the voices of young people being drowned out by the older generation. However, as we move into 2017, young people must not be angry at older people for carrying out a democratic act. To give up voting in resignation or protest would only reduce the voice of young people in general elections or referenda. The frustration and disenfranchisement must stop and be replaced by a call for politicians to listen to us as a generation – especially when it comes to having our say on Brexit. As British politics returns to phase one, now is the perfect time for young people to grasp the current political climate, stand up, and voice our concerns.

Whilst 18-25 years must continue to place pressure on politicians, another sense of redirection must occur when it comes to dealing with the rise of right-wing populism. The referendum in June asked the British people whether they trusted the representative body that is the European Union, and we decided that we were going to leave it. Rather than the aftermath of the decision raising questions about the political establishment in both the UK and Europe, a campaign of misdirection by Vote Leave moved the topic of discussion onto immigration and free movement (after their economic argument somewhat failed and the giant red bus became a parody). This, of course, is an important issue to debate and consider, but this new, nationwide talking point also gave the racists, neo-Nazis and far-right nationalists a sense of validation when it comes to targeting specific races or religions. That has to stop in 2017.

It’s something which has been explained before, but instead of blaming government (the policy-makers), those who possess these extreme right-wing views blame immigrants when it comes to issues such as jobs and housing.

This is why 2017 must be the year of redirection. Frustration, if it is to remain in the new year, must be aimed at the right people: the establishment. Alongside that, of course, positive emotions and feelings must emerge – those being love, passion, unity and hope.

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4 thoughts on “2017 must be the year of redirection | The Friday Article

  1. In my country, voting is compulsory. At least, you have to turn up and get your voting slip and at that point it seems silly to spoil your vote. Some people do, but mostly it works. When you don’t have to vote, people don’t turn up if it’s raining, or because “they’re all the same!” and then they complain about the results. How many of these young people you mention did vote in the end? If they all had, you’d likely still be in the EU.

    Yes, the right wing populist loonies are really coming out of the woodwork now, aren’t they? Not only in the UK, either. They will say anything to be elected. And the sad thing about all this is that those who vote for them believe that their troubles are always someone else’s fault, the “them” who aren’t “us”. It’s comforting. It’s never the fact that big business goes overseas to save money, that technology has developed and replaced humans with machinery. Oh, no! The jobs will come back when we vote in Candidate X. He listens to The People!

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    • I think the ‘make voting in the UK compulsory’ argument is an interesting one. Some argue that we should at least make registering to vote mandatory, then voting remains optional. On the other hand, as you have alluded to, making voting itself compulsory means that those who don’t want to vote for a particular candidate can still spoil their ballot.

      As for right-wing populism, it’s certainly something which is taking over the Western world – not just America and the UK. Look at Marine Le Pen in France, for example.

      Exactly, and it’s a point which I make in this article. Frustration in British politics – in whatever way – is often directed at the wrong people. When it comes to nationalists, it’s immigrants when the main body responsible for a lack of jobs or housing is not those coming to the country, but the policy makers. The frustration must change from being one driven by xenophobia, to one being driven by anti-establishment sentiment. We must return to a society where we were united and pushed for changes in government policy, rather than be in the position we are in now where the general public is divided.

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      • Quite right! And here in Oz, we have Pauline Hanson, whom we all thought was gone after twenty years, but who is back because of a change in the Senate(upper house) voting system that made it easier to get in, not to mention a double-dissolution election. There are members of her One Nation party who got in with as few as 77 personal votes, due to “above the line” voting where you can just vote for the party, not the candidate. Mr 77 votes is a climate change denier and I bet he believes in flat earth as well.

        But they aren’t the only nut cases – plenty more in the Senate and they can and do sell their votes in exchange for things they want to see. Ms Hanson wants, among other things, a royal commission into Islam and a halt to Muslim immigration.

        These people are scary, but those who vote for them are often even scarier, as I have discovered on Twitter.

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      • Oh my, I haven’t heard of Pauline Hanson but after doing a quick Google search, I’ve found out a bit more and it’s very concerning indeed.

        As for your comment on these voters appearing on Twitter, I agree. Thankfully I have only had a few debates with Conservative voters and no one from the far-right just yet, but I’ve seen some of their tweets, beliefs and arguments with other people and it’s scary how society has changed in one year alone.

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