After months of bickering and bargaining, it all led up to this: seven slightly anxious-looking individuals standing on a stage in Stanford.
Anyone expecting a magical transformation in the way we perceive party politics or any radical furthering in our understanding of their respective policies would have been severely disappointed. Rather, this was an opportunity to judge the quality of soundbites and panache under pressure; to determine who was the best ‘leader’ in the most aesthetic, television-friendly sense of the word.
It was a distraction, perhaps an important one, but away from the flashy soundstage of ITV’s headquarters and the well-rehearsed rhetoric which will ring throughout the land for the next month, we must now return to where this election most matters for us: Bath.
Students have an extraordinary ability to make a difference in Bath. Not only do we represent upwards of 25% of the total local population, but in some portions of the city we are easily the de facto swingers on who wins a number of important local council seats (think Twerton, Oldfield, Westmoreland).
Young people have a habit of downplaying the importance of the ‘local’ in British politics, but it does matter. In a town where students are easily demonised such as Bath, this indifference can become self-inflicted hardship. Would, for example, a conversation about implementing Council Tax on student properties (which could cost houses in Bath up to £2,500 extra each year) have come about if local politicians feared us like they should? The buses, more available houses and river safety are not ‘national’ issues, but local ones decided and, through the ballot box, dictated by us.
Yes, there are national topics which have great importance: the NHS, defence, the deficit etc. But we also need to be a bit selfish. Will the candidate you vote for in Bath represent young people well nationally whilst also understanding the issues of being a student in a unique town like Bath?
So here is what we can do. Firstly, you have to register (do it now, it takes five minutes). Once you’ve done that, you can start annoying the crap out of our candidates: Julian Deverell (UKIP), Ollie Middleton (Labour), Dominic Tristram (Green), Steve Bradley (Lib Dem), Ben Howlett (Conservative), Lorraine Morgan Brinkhurst (Ind.). Their web pages and contact details are linked. Contact them about the things that define being a student here in Bath from parking to club closing times to the duck epidemic on campus.
Finally, our pledge to you is to provide the best student media coverage we can over the next month. From interviewing the candidates to covering local issues to producing videos and content which will make getting involved as easy as possible. And, as ever, we want your help. All views are welcome and no experience required.
And remember, whoever wins has and is obliged to represent you. Don’t let indifference give them an excuse not to.
All local candidates will debate on the 16th April in University Hall, organised by the University of Bath Politics Society. All coverage of the General Election 2015 by bathimpact can be found on our General Election page here.