Students at Wimbledon High School are gearing-up for the election on Thursday but are frustrated at the lack of information available.
By Sam Smith
Students at Wimbledon High School are gearing-up for the election tomorrow but are frustrated at the lack of information available to first-time voters.
Sixth form students at the school will have the opportunity to vote for the first time and turnout is expected to be very high with 44 out of 47 eligible students indicating they will vote.
However, despite their enthusiasm and interest in the forthcoming election, they have expressed frustration at the lack of clear policy information available to them.
Megan Lynch, who will be voting in Richmond for the first time, said: “There’s a big smear campaign between the parties and they all accuse each other of scaremongering. I get so many leaflets I don’t know what to think.
“I think they need to explain things better for first-time voters. A lot of the canvassers aren’t very well informed at all.”
Her sentiments are shared by Bea Newman who will be voting locally in the Wimbledon constituency.
“I haven’t had any leaflets and I’ve had no canvassers,” she said.
“I’ve had one questionnaire from Stephen Hammond but no informative leaflets at all.”
Conservative MP Stephen Hammond won the Wimbledon seat in 2005 by a majority of 2,301.
“We’ve tried to be clear on what the national policies are from the Conservative Party and my four or five local promises,” he said.
“I accept that for first-time voters it is difficult and sometimes people are led by others, but I think it would be patronising to say ‘here you go, you can be guided by these principles’ rather than those of the whole constituency.
“It is difficult to get the balance right. Maybe we should have something on our website for first-time voters.”
Mr Hammond said in previous elections a young person’s hustings had been held at the YMCA, but it did not take place this year.
He was also forthright in encouraging first time voters to use their vote.
“It’s your country and it’s your future. Despite what everyone says, voting is the only way politicians can start to make decisions that will carry some mandate and civic responsibility, but only if they have validity from people to do so.
“I remember as a teenager breaking off the shackle of everyone else telling you what to do and having the chance of making my own mind up and it is a liberating experience.
“Only you can make your mind up about how you vote and I think that’s really important,” he said.
Students at Wimbledon High School will be staging a mock election on the day itself to encourage an interest in politics amongst pupils from an early age.
Alex Brewer, an English teacher at the school, said: “You learn about politics by getting involved in discussions, watching TV and radio and talking to your friends, so that is what we try and encourage in school.
“It’s important to vote because the decisions that the government make will affect us all.”