Get educated with the election

So Gordon Brown has, at last, officially started the race to elect the next government. Why should this interest you?

Firstly, the party that governs the United Kingdom is going to have a major impact on your future. No matter what you might think of the various political parties, one of them – or perhaps a coalition – will be responsible for trying to remedy our current economic woes. It’s pretty obvious that the quicker our economy recovers, the greater the chance you’ll have of getting a job once you leave university.


The General Election is coming to educate you at your nearest polling station. Photo: Ricky Romero

Secondly, for many of you this is going to be your first chance to vote at a General Election. Don’t waste that opportunity. Even if none of the main parties attract your interest consider the minor parties. The Greens, UKIP or even the Pensioners Party. Our ancestors fought bravely to give you the right to vote, don’t waste it.

Thirdly, this General Election is a wonderful learning opportunity. Learning? Yes. An opportunity to see much of what you’re being taught at university being used in the real world. Not convinced?

Every aspect of this General Election has valuable lessons worth absorbing. Watch how statistics are used to predict the eventual outcome of the election. How the limitations of those same statistics are exposed when mathematics and the real world collide.

Observe how marketing and advertising are used to influence the electorate. Not just the old fashioned billboard posters and flyers pushed through letter boxes, but the new tools of social networking and viral marketing. Every political party is a product that needs to be sold and only by building brand awareness can they hope to succeed. Just like any other product or service.

If possible, actually attend a political event. There you’ll be able to watch the manipulation of the media by public relations teams working for each of the parties, desperately seeking to get their message to the top of the daily news agenda.

It’s also a great way to see political discourse in the flesh. Oratory is a skill that has real power both in the political arena and elsewhere. Seeing it done well, and badly, is an educational experience not to be missed.

Much of the electoral process is about management. Management of the media, logistics, time, and resources. With the news media constantly on the look out to exploit, and criticise, the slightest failing. Battle buses and photo opportunities don’t organise themselves.

Behind each campaign is a team managing, organising, and controlling finite resources dedicated to achieving a specific goal. Why not volunteer to help out a local candidate of your choice and see first hand how it all works in the real world? It would also make a valuable entry on your work experience record.

General Elections don’t happen all that often. Take advantage of this one while you have the chance.

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