Bristol: Opinion- Why do people appear not to care about Brexit?

1975. That was the last time the UK held a referendum on membership for the European Union. At the time 67% of voters opted to stay in Europe, but this time its being reported that the “Yes/No” split is fairly even. However, on a recent trip to discover people’s opinions on the matter, I found that few people are taking interest in the referendum.

The European Union both offers and takes away. As with everything there are positives and negatives to leaving the EU, however most people are unawares of what those are. Earlier in the year the government sent out a leaflet on its take on staying in the EU. The leaflet received a cold reception, and was slated for wasting taxpayers’ money for a bias agenda. However, the criticism and hype around it failed to generate interest in the referendum. One person I spoke to didn’t even know what a referendum was. Maybe having been in the EU for so long, this generation is blind to the influence that Europe has on life in the UK. Its up to the government to educate the people before the referendum so that they can make an informed decision. Lack of knowledge breeds ignorance, and ignorance leads to lack of interest. There is a real danger of a small voter turn out, just like in the police commissioner voter in 2012.

Personally as someone who has only recently reached the age at which I can vote, it’s disappointing that I am so ill informed about such an important vote. At my age it should be an exciting thing being able to vote. It’s my opportunity to have an influence, however I have no idea what I am having an influence on.

In 1975 there was two distinctive campaigns. A definitive “Yes” camp, and a definitive “No” camp. With clear opposition they had to shout a little louder for people to receive their information. This time around I’ve heard nothing from either side. Apart from the “No” leaflet, I have received no information on why I should or should not vote for remaining in the European Union. The “Yes” voice has been particularly quiet. It’s quite worrying that people could be blind voting due to a lack of action by both parties.

Granted, with a big of digging on the Internet there is information out there. However this is mainly coming from third parties. Those that have an interest in the matter will more than likely have their opinion and will have made up their mind as to where their vote is going. Businesses will already know the benefits and restrictions of Europe. Atlantis Resources in Bristol, for example, is reliant on European Funding, as the majority of their work is based in Ireland, and when talking to them they expressed their interest in staying in the single market. But importantly the every day person doesn’t have an opinion despite the fact that the vote will affect them more than they appear to know. It’s just disappointing to see such a lack of publicity around the issue.

I think for my generation especially it comes down to a lack of political education, as highlighted by a low youth turnout in last years general election, proving its not just Europe that we are un educated about. Politics affects everyone’s life and therefore should be more than just a hobby for the few.

It’s a shame that politics is not seen as an important subject to many. They are just happy to accept what happens, or if they don’t then just take to twitter to passively tweet about it. Our lack of education results in people not taking interest in matters that are important to them. There is more that can be done to get people engaged in politics across the country and personally I think that can only be a good thing. The referendum on 23rd June is significant, and it’s important that people are aware what they are voting for when they go to the polls.

 

Aiden Christer

 

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