Political participation has extremely declined in the UK since 1997. Turnout at general elections between 1922 and 1997 has always been above 71% however in recent years, the statistics of voters at general elections has dropped to below 60%. Despite the rise from 2001 to 2010, turnout at general elections still remains considerably low. In my essay I will discuss whether these falling figures mean that there is indeed a political participation disaster in the UK.
There are several reasons for this alleged participation crisis in the UK, one being the lack of trust in the political system and those who operate within it. A possible reason for this is the mass media and its poor portrayal of politicians. The media has had an increasing influence on people in recent years and the reason for this is that the media is absolutely everywhere you go. From newspapers to the internet, the media is can be accessed by anybody and everybody so the more people see negative stories about politicians and the Government the more they will believe that they are doing no good for the country. As we know there have been some massively controversial stories that involve the Government recently. One of the bigger issues was the expenses scandal, where it was revealed that politicians were using tax payers money for their own benefits. This unquestionably caused outrage among the British people. It is now a shared thought that politicians are all in it for themselves and not for the good of the people or the good of the country. This disgusting behaviour sparked fury among the citizens towards the British Government, despite only few politicians being exposed. This is a major reason as to why people no longer trust the Government. Another is the promised referendum on EU membership which still hasn’t happened, another is our involvement in the war with Iraq and another gigantic issue was the rise in university fees. Now the university fees moreover other political issues has resulted biggest negative long term impact. Consequences of the rise in university fees do not only include the brunt of the riots but now thousands and thousands of young people in the UK, even those who are not yet of compulsory voting age have a detrimental view towards the British Government. Young people are the most impressionable as they are the most likely the people who have not yet formed their own views towards politics, so the Government should ideally try to impress the younger generations so they are enthusiastic to vote and be involved in British Politics. Nevertheless the rise in university fees has left even the young people in Britain unsure of the Government because they have made such a decision that may now hinder some individuals dreams and chances of going to university because it is of such a great expense. So now when they are of a compulsory voting age, young people will not want to vote because the Government have let them down extremely in the past.
Another reason that would hint at a participation crisis is the poor economy in Britain in recent years. As we all know the recession hit the majority of Britain hard, leaving many people unemployed, in great debt and unhappy with the governing body. Since the downfall in the economy the people of Britain seems to have lost faith in the Government which has resulted in a poor voting turnout. Voters are more likely to elect a Government which make them feel good about the state of the economy and following the economic catastrophe people do not feel like they can trust the Government any more. People generally felt that the Government should have been doing a lot more to provide them support such as financial help and reducing unemployment levels, however it seemed that the Government were doing very little to support the people of Britain. Furthermore this resulted in even more people having poor expectations from the Government.