As the NoVoteNoVoice tour bus kicked off its whistle stop tour last weekend, it rolled into Rayleigh, Essex, with the cast of hit reality TV show TOWIE (The Only Way is Essex) lending a hand to encourage the nation to register to vote.
As the Daily Mirror reported today (March 3), TOWIE’s stars, including Lydia Bright, Gemma Collins, Jessica Wright, Elliott Wright and James Lock, have joined forces with the voter registration coalition headed by Unite, the Daily Mirror, Hope not Hate, Operation Black Vote and Vote Booster, among other groups.
They’re hoping to appeal to young voters, many of whom have become so disaffected by mainstream politics that they’ve relinquished the most powerful tool they have to affect change – voting.
But the cast of TOWIE argue that for young people, voting now is important than ever before.
“I really want young people to vote because we are the people who are really being affected by all the changes politicians talk about,” said Lydia Bright.
New star James Locke agreed.
“It’s important as it’s your say on choosing who’s running our country,” he said.
Indeed, listen to any political debate in the run-up to May’s election, and parties across the spectrum are talking about issues that directly affect young people, from zero hours contracts to apprenticeships to tuition fees and affordable housing.
But, as it stands now, young people’s fate may be decided by other people. If history is anything to go by, young people aged 18 to 24 will not turn out in the numbers that other age groups do – in 2010, only 44 per cent of young people voted, compared to 76 per cent of voters over 65.
TOWIE star Elliott Wright, however, insists that young people must exercise their right to vote come May.
“If young people aren’t voting, that’s not democracy, is it?” said Wright, who criticised another Essex native, Russell Brand, for his call to boycott voting.
“That’s ridiculous,” said Elliott. “There’s already not enough kids voting nowadays because they think, ‘My vote isn’t going to matter, it’s only one vote.’
“But if politicians talked to kids they could make them see that if every person your age votes then together you’ve got a massive influence,” he added.
Engage with young plea
Many in the cast of TOWIE said that if politicians hope to inspire younger generations to vote, they must engage with them.
“The problem with politicians is no young people can relate to them,” said Lydia.
“You’re allowed to talk posh, but they do it with such jargon and seem so out of touch. Young people can’t relate to it.”
Lydia adds that lack of education is also a contributing factor to dismally low youth voter turnout rates.
“Kids need to be taught about politics,” says Lydia. “We’re taught about the suffragettes. But it isn’t followed through as to why voting is still important.”
And she’s right – political education in schools is now patchy at best. And that’s why campaigns like NoVoteNoVoice have stepped in to get the word out about the importance of voting.
It’s not about choosing one party or another. It’s about reclaiming a simple but effective method for having a say in what your future will look like.
Unite national youth co-ordinator Anthony Curley, who’s heading the NoVoteNoVoice campaign, welcomed the support of TOWIE’s cast.
“Any sort of public figure who can draw attention to our campaign is a good thing,” he said. “The show is watched by more than one million people and so the cast obviously has significant sway over public opinion, especially among young people. The stars of the show can give young people, who need someone to relate to, some perspective on politics so that they get involved in May.”
Curley added that the NoVoteNoVoice bus tour, only a few days underway, is already receiving widespread publicity.
Interested in getting involved? Get on the bus and register to vote, as the NoVoteNoVoice bus stops in your area. This week the tour will stop in the following towns and cities:
Tuesday – Hastings
Wednesday – Brighton
Thursday – Southampton
Friday – Bristol
Saturday – Cardiff
Sunday – Sandwell, Dudley
Find out more about NoVoteNoVoice here.
*Photo of TOWIE stars by Tim Anderson/Daily Mirror