If you read me a lot, here is my disclaimer. This one isn’t funny.
If you live in the UK, you might have noticed that there is a General Election this week.
I don’t wear my political affiliation on my sleeve; although people who know me may be able to make an educated guess at my allegiances. However, I don’t seek to endorse particular parties, and I have opinions on policies and ideals, rather than parties and leaders. When it comes to election time, I weigh up all of the alternatives and pick the best fit.
I don’t expect other people to tell me who they are voting for either, although obviously many people are loud and proud in their choices. What I do expect, however, is that everyone who is eligible to vote, uses the opportunity to do so. And whilst I think I am fairly balanced and reasonable on most issues, on this one I will judge the shit out of you if you can’t be bothered.
I don’t know all of the reasons why someone wouldn’t vote, and I certainly don’t understand them. I assume that the biggest one is apathy, or a general “can’t be arsed-ness” and I have heard lots of people say things like “I know who’ll get in, so it’s a wasted vote” or “they’re all crap so it doesn’t matter who gets in.”
Here are the reasons why those people are wrong:
Firstly, you don’t know who will get in. You may be able to make a well-judged assessment of the situation, and in some areas of the country, you will no doubt be right. But that is not a reason not to vote. If it is a safe seat for “Party A” and you like “Party A” then bloody vote for them. Because if all of their supporters chose to believe that they would get in anyway and not bother, then they won’t. Will they?
Secondly, if you live in a “Party A” safe seat and you disagree with them – then go and register that opinion. You may not alter that result, but your vote will be registered and counted within your age group. You may contribute to a surge of opposition voting. The candidate you favour may be favoured by others, and so your vote could contribute towards that candidate being moved to a more winnable seat in the future. If everyone who felt like you voted, then the “party A” safe seat candidate may win with a much reduced margin, which could potentially give credence to altering our first-past-the-post system, and make Westminster take notice of the correlation between %age of the votes and %age of the seats.
Thirdly, if there is no overall majority, then this time round, the party with the most votes will likely have the better claim on forming a government. And suddenly, your vote looks important.
Fourthly, if ALL the undecided or floating voters voted, we may see that safe seats are not that safe.
Fifthly, only 65% of eligible voters actually voted in the last election. There were over 45, 000, 000 registered voters and around 29,000,000 actual votes. No party achieved the 326 seats required for a majority which is why we ended up with the coalition. Imagine what could have been the outcome if the other 35% of the voting populations had bothered. Over 16 million people.
There are a plethora of online quizzes to take, if you are undecided. You read the policies and then mark which ones you like the best. At the end of the quiz, it will tell you which parties you agreed with. If you want, you could vote for that one!
Don’t be misled by the weird political persona campaign we have going on. In the uk, we vote for the party and policies. In America, they vote for the person. Admittedly an awful lot of emphasis is placed on the current leaders, but to me, this is just celebrity culture at its weirdest. We aren’t voting for personalities, great orators or charming men – we are voting for what they represent. After all, everyone who jubilantly voted for Blair in 1997 didn’t realise that he’d made a deal with his mate Brown to divide the rule. And he didnt do anything illegal either. (In the leadership thing. Not the war thing. That’s a different blog)
And if you are a woman who isn’t voting, then I really have no time for you. In the last General Election over 9 MILLION WOMEN did not vote. I’ll let that sink in. NINE MILLION
It was only 100 years ago that women were deemed too silly, too hormonal and not intelligent enough to vote. It has only been 87 years since electoral equality has been established. Childcare, domestic violence, the public image of women, the gender pay divide, maternity welfare – all of these issues hugely important to women everywhere, and yet more than 9 million women did not take their hard-fought-for rights to register their opinions. 9.1 million women literally hold the power – they could have changed the result.
Passionate, eloquent women sacrificed everything so that their daughters’ daughters could have democracy. We owe them this. And women everywhere. We owe them.
You could argue, of course, that it is a democratic right not to vote. And technically you’d be right. But if that’s the case, then go and register your disdain by turning up at the polling booth and spoiling your ballot paper. Because if you don’t, then no one will ever know or care.
If you don’t vote, then you really have no grounds to complain about… Well anything really. About waiting lists, the NHS, bus services, the state of the roads, the price of petrol, education, the tv licence, tax on tampons, strikes, cuts, nurses wages, child benefit, nursery places…etc…etc…
I recall the last GE. I’d been working all day, and out all evening, and I rocked up at the polling station at about 9:30pm. I walked into a darkened room, peopled with two napping old women and an old guy stirring a cup of cold tea. They all jumped up with a start and brushed off the cobwebs as I presented my polling card. They turned over the sheets of paper with lists of names and addresses on, armed with their ruler and pencil, so they could cross out my name. Apart from my husband’s name (he’d been there earlier) not one other name on that sheet had been crossed off. Or on the two before it.
Apathy rules in my home town, I’m afraid, and in direct correlation, the complain level is through the roof. Don’t be one of those people. Use your vote, whoever you vote for. Use it and be part of democracy.
Unless you’re voting UKIP.*