As the big parties prepare for the 2015 election, The Chad quizzes Ashfield Labour MP Gloria de Piero and Liberal Democrat Jason Zadrozny in the final part of our series.
Turnout in Ashfield was 62 per cent at the 2010 election - three points below the national average.
Meanwhile, the MPs expenses scandal, concerns about lobbying and the recession have all contributed to an atmosphere of mistrust. Why shouldn’t voters be cynical of politicians?
Mr Zadrozny said: “The biggest swathe of non-voters is the 18 to 25 age group. It serves some political parties to keep things that way. We don’t talk to them about things that interest them. Politics can sound off-putting, stuffy and boring.
“But when you make young people understand that politics affects everything they do - that’s when they get interested. And that’s when they will make the effort to got to the ballot box.
“The old joke about putting a red rose on a donkey and it will get elected is not the case any more. There’s a sense of competition which is healthy. The good thing now is that every party has to work for every vote.”
He backs a power of recall for MPs who have committed serious wrongdoing, and believes transparency is key to holding an MP to account. But adds: “We should all be doing more to talk about the things that matter to us. It’s good for democracy.”
Ms de Piero said: “Turnout has fallen across the country but that doesn’t mean we just stand idly by and accept it. We need to tackle it head on and my party has already recognised this. I’m proud that we are leading the way with a number of radical reforms that will truly open up politics as well as promising 16 year olds a vote.
“I’ve met so many people in Ashfield from all walks of life who are incredibly passionate about their community and I love getting out there and hearing what they’ve got to say – come rain or shine. The one thing people hate is when politicians only turn up when they want something at election time. People here will never accept that. They’d see right through it in a flash.
“We are working for every vote in Ashfield and we’ve knocked on doors each week since the last general election. I work as hard as I possibly can and I think local people recognise and appreciate that. I don’t want anyone to be able to say I haven’t given it my all.”