Wednesday, 6 May 2015

To Vote or Not to Vote? That Shouldn't be the Question....

In 2010's general election only 65.1% of voters exercised their right to vote, and that didn't work out well for anyone. We ended up with a Tory government united in a strange marriage with the Lib Dems, and that didn't work out well for Nick Clegg.

I was, once, one of those people who didn't vote. I was even quite proud of it and Russell Brand, before his recent Labour conversion, would have been proud of me too.

I was one of the disillusioned youth, but growing up in Margaret Thatcher's Britain you could hardly be anything else unless, of course, you were a young William Hague. Many, and very real, atrocities were committed by Thatcher's government in the name of progress, they were committed on the people her government were supposed to be representing and protecting and, in retrospect, much of what they 'achieved' resulted in the mess we're in today.

It was Margaret Thatcher's Conservative government, for example, deregulating the banks and the city's financial institutions during the 80s and 90s which, arguably, contributed to the recent global economic crisis. You know, the one the current Conservative government will keep telling you is the fault of the last Labour government. Not the pack of 80s pin-striped, red-braced and red-faced Tory w bankers whose fault it really was.

My political stance during the long years of Thatcher's reign (generally only spoken of at gloomy student parties that were going dangerously off-kilter) was Theoretical Communism: Communism being a great idea in theory but one that would never work in practise, mainly because there's always some bugger who wants more than every bugger else whether it be turnips, money or power.

And, for the first 14 years of my voting life, I did not vote. Not once. And not through forgetfulness or lack of interest, I thought I was making a statement. I wasn't.

I even covered elections as a reporter on the local newspaper and though I quaffed celebratory ales in the Red Shed with the Labour candidate when he won, yet again (I live in Wakefield, we've had a Labour MP since 1932), it was not my vote that bought the drinks. The Conservatives were still in power anyway.

In 1997, I voted for the first time. Whether because by then I was the mother of twins and to all intents and purposes a real grown up, at 33. Or the vague hope (after 18 very long years of Tory government) that things really might get better. 

Or, most likely, because as a stay at home mum with toddler twins, a trip to the polling booth was the only social life I was going to get that week, I don't really know, but vote I did and it felt good. I felt like I had made a difference.

I've voted ever since.

I still don't trust any of the buggers mind, and I know my vote makes as much difference as a ripple in a puddle three continents away to who ends up in Number 10, but that's because the voting system needs to change.

I will be voting on Thursday. Even if the only political stand I make is one in a small wooden cubicle with a pen, I want my voice to be heard. This election is the only chance where the people get a say in which other people they want to run the country for the next four years and when one voice is joined by hundreds and thousands of voices, they will hear us roar.

.......We'd be heard a damn sight more clearly if we had proportional representation though. *Sigh*

I hope to see you at the polling booth....

.... unless you're voting for someone else. Obvs.

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