Missing Voices? Why we want to hear from people left out of the political picture

Jess Blair outlines a new project aiming to have a national conversation about politics in Wales.






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Brenda from Bristol certainly summed up a lot of people’s views when asked what she thought about Theresa May’s announcement of a General Election this April. “You’re joking- not another one… I can’t stand this. There’s too much politics”, she argued.

 

Too much politics? Well, yes, there have been a lot of elections lately. Over the last couple of years in Wales we’ve seen two General Elections, one Assembly Election, one Local Government Election and an EU Referendum. I’m almost considering moving into my local polling station.

 

But this is a period of massive change. The decisions that we have made over the last few years will have a long lasting impact on everyone in the country. I cannot remember a time where politics has seemed more significant.

 

People seem to agree with me. There was a 3% increase in turnout across Wales at the last election. In Merthyr this increased by 8%.

 

Yet despite this, a significant number of people still didn’t vote. Over 30% of registered voters didn’t turnout – and that’s aside from the 350,000 people who should be on the register but aren’t.

 

This time of change and the huge variations in people’s voices being heard are some of the main reasons why today we’re are launching a conversation about voting and politics across Wales. With control of elections being devolved next year, getting the conversation going now about how to reinvigorate Welsh politics is vital.

 

We want to hear what you think about politics, and over the next few months we’ll be undertaking focus groups, digital discussion groups and online surveying in an attempt to speak to as many people in Wales as possible.

 

This project goes beyond voting. Our aim is to have a meaningful discussion about how we can get more people engaged in politics and remove some of the barriers we see today at a political level.

 

We’ll be hearing the good, the bad and the ugly. If you think politics is rubbish, tell us why and how it can improve. If you’ve changed your mind lately about politics we want to hear that too.

 

We have 14 fantastic partners working with us on this project, ranging from NUS Wales to Llamau to Citizens Advice and RNIB Cymru all the way to the National Assembly and the Welsh Government itself. The purpose of this is to tap into as many networks as possible and we particularly want to hear from people who aren’t interested in politics, who have never voted or have voted sporadically.

 

You can let us know your thoughts by taking part in our online survey that can be found in English here and in Welsh here. You can also tweet us @ERS_Cymru or use the hashtag #missingvoices.

 

This project will be taking place throughout the Summer and we’ll be running as many focus groups across the country as possible. We’ll be launching our findings in the Autumn and will be telling decision makers what you think in an effort to improve and deepen democracy in Wales.

 

This is a chance to reach beyond the bubble. In these changing times, it’s more important than ever we hear from those who aren’t being heard.

 

All articles published on Click on Wales are subject to IWA’s disclaimer

 

Jess Blair is the Director of ERS Cymru