This is our first blog in a new series that seeks to understand the connections between the political world and our everyday lives. We hope that these blogs will help people discover the way in which politics affects us all, and why political engagement is so important if we seek to protect or even change our communities on a local and national level. If you want to be involved in future blogs please do get in touch, we’d love to hear from people from a wide range of different backgrounds, interests and with new ideas. But first I thought I’d start with something simple, interviewing myself!
Tell me a little about you…
Hi, my name is Rachael and I’m a third-year Politics & History student at Brunel University London. I’m originally from the North West and, for the last few years, I’ve been running Voting Counts! You can follow me on twitter: @RachaelDesign
Did you vote at the last election? And why?
Yes I did vote in the last General Election!
It was the first time I actually got to vote, so it was quite exciting. I felt it was super important to vote, not only because of the long list of reasons which you can see listed on this website, but also because in the seat where I was registered the local MP only had a small majority, meaning that every vote really did count! I had been impressed by the hard work of my local MP and wanted to make sure he could continue that work, so I made sure I got a postal vote organised so that I could vote for him even whilst living away at University.
What would you say to those who don’t vote?
I think it is so easy to fall into the habit of not voting, many don’t really see how politics affects them or their lives on a day to day basis. To this I’d say think about what you care about, is it the education of yourself or children, the local community spaces, healthcare, or jobs in your local community? Usually, whatever issue it is that you care about is influenced by politics in some way, so you should at least vote so that you have a say in making sure that issue is dealt with in a way you see fit.
What issues at election time are most important to you and why?
This is actually super difficult to answer! I guess it changes from election to election. When I was 18 it was all about higher education, whilst now I’m about to leave university and looking at the economic circumstances and job markets. It’s okay to think a little selfishly at election time, but I think it’s also important to balance that with considering the impact political decisions might have on the wider community or country too.
Have you ever been involved in politics beyond elections?
I ran a campaign to get a live music venue in Chester when I was in sixth form, it led me to meeting the head of the council and appearing in our local paper. Unfortunately, I moved away to university before I could create the north west’s very own Glasto!
Are there any causes/interests you’re particularly passionate about? And how does politics impact on these interests?
A lot of my interests are politics based, including Voting Counts, but outside of that I love travelling. I’ve been really lucky to visit some amazing places including most recently Nice, Berlin and Amsterdam, plus I’m planning an amazing trip to Thailand post-uni!
The political climate does affect this interest, Brexit will possibly have an effect on my need for a visa when travelling in Europe, and Government decisions can impact how much foreign currency I get for my UK pounds. The Foreign Office website is also really useful for checking safety advice for many travel destinations, the diplomatic relations the UK has with other nations does affect how safe a country might be to visit.
Does politics have an effect on your work or study?
Studying a politics degree means that naturally, politics affects my study in terms of subject content.
In addition, the Government has the power to make decisions about education issues that will in turn affect me, including financial aspects such as tuition fees, post-Graduate loans and bursaries.
Do you discuss politics with your friends?
All the time. But again, that’s the nature of my friendship group! It’s good though because my friends have a really diverse range of ideologies, meaning that you’re always challenged to develop your opinion. It’s much better than just being in a group where everyone just agrees with you! The most important thing is that you don’t let a debate come between your friendship!