Ricky Tomlinson, Terry Christian and Sue Johnston encourage people to register to vote

Tim Lezard Europe, UK, Unite,
Ricky Tomlinson in a still from Unite's voter video

Ricky Tomlinson in a still from Unite’s voter video

Leading British actors Sue Johnston and Ricky Tomlinson are among the household names to share their voting stories in a short film launched by Unite urging the country’s millions of missing voters to go out and vote: ‘for yourself, for humanity, for democracy.’

With 22 days to go before the 2015 general election – and less than a week left to get onto the voter registration roll – the film is the latest initiative from the union in its efforts to persuade disconnected voters to have their say in how our country is run.

Falling voter turnout among women, young people and ethnic minorities is of particular concern. A total of 9.1 million women did not vote at the general election in 2010 and only 39 per cent of 18-24 year olds voted, compared to 68 per cent of over 65s.

In a direct plea to the country’s young voters, Ricky Tomlinson says: ‘There are some bright kids out there who given the chance can change things.’ He urges them ‘to get together with your mates, go along, do it together. Talk about it.”

Broadcaster Terry Christian tells viewers that ‘for democracy to work everybody’s got to take part’; artist Bob and Roberta Smith says: “The link between human rights and voting is absolutely central,” and award-winning director Mike Leigh says: “To have the vote and not to vote, is a terrible, terrible crime.”

Changes to the voter register system introduced by the government in September mean that around one million people – many of them young and working class- have fallen off the electoral roll. Many won’t even know. The deadline to register to vote is the 20 April.

Unite general secretary Len McCluskey said: “Millions of people go unheard in this country because they don’t vote. But in a tight election like this one and arguably one of the most important in generations, every vote really does count.

“The truth is, when you don’t vote you’re not heard by the politicians. 9.1 million women did not vote in 2010, they were hardest hit by the coalition cuts. Young people also stayed away from the polls in 2010 and they too have lost out under this coalition.

“People who vote get stuff. Those who don’t get stuffed. The only way to change this is to get out there – get registered and vote.”


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Tim Lezard

Campaigning journalist, editor of @Union_NewsUK, NUJ exec member; lover of cricket, football, cycling, theatre and dodgy punk bands

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