Hastings & St. Leonards on-line community newspaper
Voter registration stall in Sussex Coast College

Voter registration stall in Sussex Coast College

Don’t count yourself out!

James Bacon (above, far left) is a local lad and a recent politics graduate from the University of Bristol. This Easter he launched a campaign to encourage more young people to use their right to vote. Below he explains why he believes that voting is the key to unlocking the door to a better future, where we all have a say in the decisions which affect our lives.

Although voting should be the most important way to make our voice heard on the issues that concern us, a major problem has arisen with voter apathy and fears that a democratic crisis is looming. This is why on Easter Sunday a politically neutral campaign was launched, called Don’t Count Yourself Out, where the true winner will be democracy!

The aim for this campaign is to inform and educate young people in Hastings and the surrounding areas on the importance of voting and having a say in the decisions which affect them and their community. If we can inform and educate our young people as early as possible about why we vote and explain the system more coherently, we can avert any crisis from happening. It means that our local schools, academies and colleges must be on board so that we can build a culture of ‘Voting and Society Matters!’

I have been pleasantly surprised with the response thus far. Not only have we organised a voter registration stall in Sussex Coast College, Hastings Town Centre and Parkwoood Sixth Form, we have also been in close discussions with Ark Helenswood Academy and the Hastings Academy too. It was a true pleasure to have been invited into the Helenswood debate club where I was taken back by the high level of maturity and debate. This is very promising in conjunction with our campaign aims, as we hope to see this being mirrored by all students and schools. We are looking forward to leading assemblies and classes in these academies.

The American politician John Ensign stated: “I believe that voting is the first act of building a community as well as building a country.” How true this is! We must hold onto our democratic heritage and use it with great privilege, especially as so many countries around the world are lacking in free and fair elections. This is why I have decided to set up the campaign as I believe that voting is central to creating a better society for all.

We are really excited to boast an eclectic list of local supporters. These include former vice chair of the British Youth Council, Solomon Curtis; Louis Bedwell of the One Expedition; Lord Brett McLean; leader of Hastings Borough Council Jeremy Birch; Mayor of Hastings Alan Roberts; MP for Hastings and Rye Amber Rudd; Hastings Youth Council; Labour Parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen; Liberal Democrat Parliamentary candidate Nick Perry; former MP Michael Foster; shadow Secretary of State Andy Burnham, as well as many local councillors and young people around the town and country.


Quotes from supporters of the Don’t Count Yourself Out campaign:

Solomon Curtis

Solomon Curtis

Solomon Curtis, 17, former vice chair of the British Youth Council, says, “It’s so important that we as young people use our vote to bring about change so that policy is no longer skewed against us. That is why I support this campaign to encourage young people to use their vote and radically change/improve our democracy.”

James Bacon, 25, founder of Don’t Count Yourself Out, explains that, “We all want what is best for us and our community. We can all make the change we want through participating in elections. Voting is a right which so many have fought for. Use it wisely and feel the power of the vote. Don’t count yourself out!”

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye

Amber Rudd, MP for Hastings and Rye.

MP Amber Rudd goes on to say, “It is so important that all young people, especially first-time voters, become politically aware and make their voices heard in the democratic process. The suffragettes in the late 19th and early 20th centuries were prepared to chain themselves to railings, go on hunger strike and even go to prison in their quest to be given the vote. Don’t squander the success of their efforts. Don’t lose your chance to exercise your vote.”

Sarah Owen, Labour candidate for the Hastings and Rye constituency, is also a supporter of the campaign and is quoted as saying, “Politics should inspire, anger and motivate everybody – especially young people in places like Hastings and Rye where they have had to bear the brunt of some of the most negative government policies.  I first got involved in community campaigns and politics when I was a young teenager in Hastings, and anything that encourages others to have their say and play an active part in their community deserves our support.”

Finally, Nick Perry, the Liberal Democrat candidate for Hastings and Rye, endorses this campaign with the following quotation: “Political parties are often careful to tailor their message to older people because they know they vote. Young voters need to clock this, and take their power too. I wish James’ campaign every success.”

The ultimate goal for this campaign is to see voter turnout increase in our local area and country. Young people are our future and it is vital that we make them feel empowered. Education must be the key to achieving this goal of inspiring young people to vote and to feel equipped with the knowledge to vote for the party which best represents them. Whether you are still in education, at work or unemployed, this campaign is for you!

The next stage of our campaign is to lobby politicians and our local candidates to support the idea of guaranteeing that every child in this town leaves school having visited Parliament and met their MP at least once, to embed the culture of politics and its relevance and importance into the lives of everyone. For young people to understand the past of our democracy should help improve its future.

The Don’t Count Yourself Out Facebook page is growing in popularity – you can ‘like’ it here.

If you are interested in endorsing and supporting this campaign in any way, please contact James by email at:

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Thank you for your continued support!

Posted 17:52 Saturday, May 17, 2014 In: Campaigns

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