AC

Is Russell Brand right? Are we disenchanted by politics?

Russell Brand on Question TimeLess than a quarter of people said they “tended to trust” the government in 2014 and there has been a significant drop in those who believe voting is the only way to have their say since the 1960s, according to a new report. Is Russell Brand right?

Russell Brand kicked off a firestorm last October when he claimed that voting was simply a waste of time in a New Statesman article.

“I have never voted. Like most people I am utterly disenchanted by politics. Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as nothing more than a bureaucratic means for furthering the augmentation and advantages of economic elites.”

Handily, an ONS release today allows us to factcheck some of the comedians claims.

“I have never voted”

Brand is among over a third (39%) of eligible voters that did not vote during the 2010 election. That vote saw a rise of 3 percentage points on the 2005 and 2001 elections, during which 58% of people cast their ballot. So most people who are eligible do actually decide to vote.

Yet, as we all know, voting among young people is where a lot of concerns lie. Some have sought to draw links between young people not participating and a lack of parliamentary measures that benefit them.

As Rowena Mason pointed out last December:

This may explain why pensioners have kept hold of their free bus passes and TV licences for over-75s, while under-25s are targeted for benefit cuts and are struggling to find jobs.

Voting identity is kept secret but the ONS report cites an Ipsos MORI estimate that 44% of those aged 18 to 24 eligible to vote turned out at the last election.

An international comparison by Eurobarometer in April 2013 suggested the UK was the EU country with the lowest proportion of those aged 15 to 30 who voted in any civic election during the three years previous to that. Although, admittedly, it did include some who were too young to vote.

Read the full piece

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