First of all, I would suggest that the recent survey taken of student’s political views should perhaps be taken with a pinch of salt as 200 odd voters constitute somewhat less than 10 percent of the university’s population. However, if it was carried out using random sampling, some of the larger figures do tell us something about the political outlooks of students.
What do they tell us? Well, for the most part that the cliché of students being either apathetic towards politics or generally liberal is prevalent. Yes, 17% of those polled said they would vote Conservatives; however this, along with the results of the local elections, I suspect is more due to feelings of disillusionment towards Labour than a flowering of right wing politics. While the support of ASBOs indicates a strong stance towards crime (which is not an exclusively right wing concept), concern with the environment and opposition to marijuana reclassification are traditionally left wing issues.
The appearance of BNP in the survey may raise a few eyebrows, however, its mention by 1% of students is significantly less than the percentage that voted for the party in the local elections, once again reinforcing the image of generally liberal students.
It is something that is bought up time and time again, but the main conclusion that can be drawn from this is that student apathy is a problem with 52% polled just shrugging their shoulders when asked who they would vote for.
I’m guilty of this myself as I failed to sort out a postal vote for the London elections. As a result I have no right to complain about the fact that my home city is now lumped with Boris Johnson as Mayor, although admittedly I am no great fan of Ken either.
Voter apathy is often mitigated by claims of disillusionment with the main parties, the rather lazy “they’re all as bad as each other” mentality. But how does this prevent people from casting a protest vote towards one of the smaller parties? Vote for the Monster Raving Loony party if you must but don’t discard your hard won right to vote. With many in Zimbabwe struggling through a deeply flawed, also known as rigged, democratic system to oust Mugabe, the lassitude shown towards our own democratic system leaves a lot to be desired.