By Oli Constable
As a student who has not got a clue about anything political, registering to vote hasn’t even crossed my mind.
I tried voting for the Police and Crime Commissioner in my local area a couple of years ago, but I felt if my vote really did count and tipped the balance, I couldn’t take the responsibility of deciding who would take charge when I didn’t know what any of them stood for.
And yet, this morning I found myself packed into the HUBS at Hallam’s Student Union, with hundreds of other students, to hear Ed Miliband, Labour’s party leader, deliver a speech on young people and their right to vote.
Fellow SHU student Shannon Cooke and myself wanted to live tweet the event as it is something that we had done during our Writing the Message Online module in our first year of BA Journalism at Sheffield Hallam University.
The reason for live tweeting was because not only is it instant, but also a lot of young people use the social networking platform, so hopefully our audience would be able to find it.
Before Ed Miliband took to the stage, we tweeted photos using the hashtag #ShapeYourFuture, as this was what Labour themselves were using on their official Twitter feed, because we felt we’d reach a large audience who may want to keep track of the event.
We also posted on both Twitter and Facebook about any questions that our friends or followers might have, as we knew a Q&A would be at the end.
We were surprised at the scope of questions from audience members that ranged from 15 years old and beyond. Tuition fees and Nick Clegg were mentioned within 30 seconds when a Birmingham University student took the stage, so we knew what to expect from the next hour.
We tweeted a lot of the questions asked as they were very topical and Miliband answered them in sound bites, making it easy to follow and also tweet at the same time.
I was surprised at how comfortable Ed Miliband was in lining three or four questions up at a time before answering them in one go. I suspect this was because he could mix and match what he wanted to say and dodge certain questions, as well as have time to think about the more challenging questions. He was always in control.
Shannon Cooke said: “We’ve never done anything with politics before, so it was weirdly addictive. I always thought that it would be really boring – politics in the eye of a young person could be mundane, but I’d like to see more politicians do it.”