On 12 December, the UK will decide its future with a general election. Regardless of who you are voting for, it’s an opportunity to make your voice heard and to benefit from the democratic rights that we are privileged to have in the UK. In the run-up to the election, with all the discussion of tactical voting, it’s easy to feel like the integrity of your vote is being undermined by the political game. There’s also the fact that today’s politicians — still overwhelmingly white, cis-het and middle class — can seem alienating and unrepresentative.
Perhaps as a consequence of these factors, one third of teenagers and one in four BAME adults are not yet registered to vote. However, non-partisan campaign Vote For Your Future hopes to change this by encouraging everyone who can, in particular young people, to register to vote by the deadline of today at 11:59pm. If you believe that you are not eligible, it’s worth double-checking: Commonwealth citizens, individuals with no fixed address and UK citizens living abroad can all exercise their right to vote.
In collaboration with Vote for Your Future, acclaimed photographer Rankin has gathered together a range of familiar faces from different corners of the political spectrum to learn more about why you should register to vote. Keep reading to hear from musician Jordan Stephens, television personality Georgia Toffolo, The Crown actor Emma Corrin and entrepreneur Cassandra Stavrou about why this election is so important to them.
Jordan will be familiar to many as one half of Brighton hip-hop duo Rizzle Kicks, who spent the ‘10s riding atop the UK charts. Since then, he has gone solo — releasing EP P.I.G (Pain Is Good) — and become an activist around issues such as mental health and masculinity.
Jordan believes that young people don’t register to vote because “politics isn’t very inclusive as it stands.” However, even if there is only so much you can change about the political establishment, by going to the polls “you essentially get to decide who f***s you over the best.” When it comes to how the outcome of the general election will impact his industry, he hopes that the party that comes to power will increase arts and mental health spending. “The industry I’m in has faced a lot of cuts in terms of community centres and arts funding, and so has the mental health sector,” he says. “I would be more driven to vote for a party that placed an emphasis on building up the mental health sector and developing home-grown talent.”
Georgia first made an impression on the UK public with her turn on reality television show Made In Chelsea, where her bubbly personality was a splash of sunshine amongst all the onscreen drama. Since then, she captured the heart of the nation by winning I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! In 2017.
Georgia believes that individuals don’t register to vote because they feel disempowered. “I think lots of people don’t register to vote because they think their opinions don’t matter and they look at the political establishment and can’t see themselves reflected in that,” she says. “I find that frustrating because it’s so important they do go and vote so they can tell people how they feel. Just by not going to the polls you’re not changing anything.” She hopes her vote will bring greater financial stability to the UK. “For what I do in my work it’s really important that we have a strong, confident, fruitful economy and I really hope that the outcome fosters this, she explains.
You might not be familiar with Emma Corrin now, but it’s safe to say that you’ll be seeing a lot of her in future. The young actor will soon grace our screens as Princess Diana in the fourth season of bingeable Netflix drama The Crown and has already cut her teeth with a role in DC comics tv adaptation Pennyworth.
Emma thinks that individuals don’t register to vote because they think their opinion won’t make a difference. “It’s very easy to think your voice doesn’t matter because you’re one of so many,” she explains. “I’ve been very guilty of that in the past, thinking it doesn’t matter if I don’t register because there will be other people who will.” However, she believes that the results of this election could impact her industry in terms of funding and representation — which is what makes it so important to register and turn out to the polls. “The creative industries have always been discounted and they haven’t been well-funded at all in the past,” she says. “This vote could also change a lot for minorities who haven’t traditionally been represented well in my industry and this is all stuff this vote could change.”
Cassandra Stavrou is the co-founder and CEO of PROPER; the UK’s number one, independent snack brand. Starting the business in 2011, she now sells 4 million packs of award-winning snacks every month, which adds up to three bags per second.
She strongly believes that the lack of registered young voters isn’t to do with apathy. “This isn’t a lack of interest in politics. Young people, in particular, are more engaged than ever before,” she says. “I worry, however, that people believe that their vote doesn’t matter and that it won’t make a difference.” For her, it’s incredibly important that young people shake off this ethos and make their voice heard: not just for themselves, but wider society. “Younger generations face a myriad of huge challenges – including climate change – and voting is a way to shape the debate. It matters more than ever.” For entrepreneurs like herself, this general election could be decisive, which is why she is using her vote. “We’ve had a year of stasis, of total uncertainty in our industry,” she explains. “We need clarity in order to make a plan for the future. So, whatever the outcome let’s push the agenda forward, innovate, create and make up for lost time.”