Caroline Lucas: The Shining Light
Universities with multiple campuses always have trouble on turnouts for events. Even so, when Caroline Lucas accepted the offer to talk with the Philosophy Society about politics, the house was full. As Britain’s first Green MP and the chosen candidate for Parliament in the Brighton Pavilion area since 2010, it is clear that she is well liked. And as I, a man who has not registered to vote and only knew that ‘Labour is good and UKIP is bad’ to turn around and start searching for all the main parties’ manifestos today, it’s clear she has turned me as well.
As I sat down, Caroline already had her supporters handing out voting forms. I spoke to one who told me that this branch of campaigns, ‘Students for Caroline’ was started by her, and not Caroline. She told me that ‘[Caroline] is keen to get into the students’, yet it was a chilling reminder that very few vote forms were being given out. She jokingly commented that they really need to target the ‘fashion students’ more, but regardless of if the Green Party should be in power or not, we will never know if they truly deserve it unless everyone feels that voting is important.
Caroline was refreshingly real when she started speaking: on television, everything seems so distant. She stumbled, she laughed, and her contact lens fell out. This made me believe her story of going into parliament as an outsider and made it all the more relatable and real. I never even realised the problems in parliament that Caroline described. I thought it was fine, that society was doing fine. Caroline for example said that office owned by senior MPs are used ‘as a perk’, and that if you did what they asked you could get an office with a ‘view of the River Thames’ while for the most you were lucky if you got a ‘broom cupboard’. This was made serious when she revealed that she has to run when a vote is announced, meaning there are chances she won’t make it on time at all. She gave many more examples, such as being denied a voice. Even so, Caroline has exposed this, she isn’t following it. She cheekily commented ‘I hope I have been troublesome’, and I gleefully hope she will continue to be so.
After being asked so many questions by fans and critics alike, I didn’t want to push her too much, and simply asked her after the talk how can we get more young people involved in politics. I could see many barriers, for example the terminology she used, such as ‘whips’. At this point she was genuinely distressed, but still recommended that the voting age should be brought down to 16, and that their needs to be a change to show that people ‘feel their vote counted’. I certainly feel like mine does now, but the green party and politics in general have a long way to go before it reaches all.
You have until Monday 20th April to register to vote in the upcoming election, which you can do online here.
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By Robert Bone