(With thanks to MidlothianView.com for covering the Use Your Vote launch)
Made in Scotland: Midlothian leads the way in new UK-wide voting campaign (MidlothianView.com Original Article)
Use Your Vote is a new all-party campaign aimed at getting more people to vote in elections, to take an interest in politics, and to engage more broadly in their communities and in society.
Midlothian website design company Pigeon Penguin built the campaign’s website www.useyourvote.com which was launched at the event, and Midlothian MP Owen Thompson was one of the main speakers.
Mr Thompson is fully supportive of the campaign, saying:
“I saw the great engagement of people at the Scottish Independence referendum where it was not just established politically-minded people such as myself discussing the issues but everybody, including many who had never engaged in a ‘political’ debate before. It captured people’s imagination and they were interested.”
“However, the turnout for the recent council by-elections for the council seats, such as mine, vacated when myself and other SNP councillors were elected as MPs, was ridiculously low, and in some places as low as 20%. We must find new ways to address this problem and, here, this campaign could make a real difference.”
“I welcome the Use Your Vote campaign and I am pleased to play my part in promoting, especially in Scotland.”
The other speakers at the event were Labour MP Ben Bradshaw, who hosted the launch and provided his office staff to assist, Welsh Conservative MP Glyn Davies, Liberal Democrat Baroness Sue Garden and Green MP Caroline Lucas.
The topics discussed by the speakers and the audience at the event were wide-ranging. Many were positive about giving 16 years olds the vote, citing the anamoly in Scotland where 16 year olds can vote in some but not all elections as absurd, and – with the European Referendum on the horizon – a missed opportunity to engage young people in politics across the UK.
Pigeon Penguin’s Phil Bowen said:
“Use Your Vote can really help to educate people of all ages about the political process. In the same way that some people have never entered a betting shop for fear of not knowing what to do when they get inside, there are others who would like to vote but don’t do so simply because they feel they do not have a sufficient grasp of the issues or processes involved; in short, they have a fear of the unknown”
Use Your Vote, which already lists over 20 supporting organisations on its website including Midlothian View, is the brainchild of Tony Breslin of Breslin Public Policy who has developed the Use Your Vote concept over a number of years drawing on his extensive background and networks in education and public participation.
“By the time we reach the 2020 General Election we want the Use Your Vote brand to be as recognisable as any other that you might see in the high street, on the side of a bus or across the media. We want useyourvote.com to act as a new highly visible public gate to what remains for many the secret garden of politics.
“We should be genuinely worried about declining voting levels, and other trends that suggest that fewer and fewer people are getting involved in community life, for instance as charity trustees or school governors.
“Through the Use Your Vote campaign we want to bring together everybody who is concerned about the future health of our democracy – big businesses, public agencies, small companies, pressure groups, worried individuals – we all have a part to play, even if its just adding the Use Your Vote icon to your e-mail signature, home page or business card. Together, we can (and must) make apathy history.”
You can find out more (and download the Use Your Vote logo) from www.useyourvote.com