Political ignorance is not entirely a bad thing if you recognise it - or at least that's what I'm telling myself! Your political compass is allowed to adapt and change, but it is important to reflect on what prompted that shift. For some context, I will tell you a short story about how I came to this political epiphany.
Originally, I am from the small town of Stoke-on-Trent. It is best known for being the home of Alton Towers and is routinely voted one of the worst places to live in England. There is nothing remarkable about Stoke other than that it went Blue after the 2019 General Election - for the first time in years. This working-class town in dire need of funding and restoration overwhelmingly voted for the Conservatives.
During the last election, I was living and voting in Leeds. I have lived here for two years for university and I have unequivocally fallen in love with the city. All the constituencies in Leeds kept their Labour hold during the 2019 election. Everyone I knew was voting Labour. You didn't need to ask someone what their political alignment was, it was an unspoken fact that we were a Red city. I always tried not to talk about my political views at university as the nitty-gritty specifics of a person's political ideology scared me, and having to defend my opinions scared me more. At this time, I didn't know what I should be doing, as for the first time my hometown and family's opinions weren't ones I shared.
I was morphing into the ‘Trotsky socialist’ my father feared I would become.
At first, I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what propelled my shift over to the left, but I’ve since decided it was mostly down to me moving away from home. For the first time I wasn’t in an echo-chamber where strong opinions meant more than facts. I was in an environment where people wanted to debate their thoughts using data and a calm attitude.
It’s well known that young voters tend to vote Labour. In the 2019 election, 56% of 18 to 24 year-olds voted Labour, with only 21% voting Conservative. Statistically, I am not an anomaly. I would be interested to know if that number has been impacted by the environment young people are currently in. On multiple occasions, I have heard it said that young people don't have a vested interest in politics, that we're too naive and too inexperienced to know our own minds. I believed that for most of my teens, thinking that I should probably follow in my family's political footsteps as they surely knew better.
However, I still voted for Labour in the 2019 election. I listened to stories of people who didn't have the same privileges as me, who were being mistreated by a system that didn't have them in mind. Since the election and the disastrous effects of COVID-19, we have all watched the government fail to provide PPE, allow universities to charge students £9000 for an online course, as well as dragging their feet on social issues that matter. This article isn't intended to turn you into a Leftist but to encourage you to see past what your parents or hometown think.
Your political alignment should be based on your opinions, what you think will be best for the country; your age, education and hometown shouldn’t dictate that.