Politics was always an important issue in my childhood home. My father was a local councillor, lots of our family friends were local politicians and as soon as I turned eighteen it was insured that I was registered to vote. During my first General Election vote, I was marched to the Polling Station as soon as it opened.
I have voted in every election since, because I can. A hundred years ago, women fought and gave their lives so I could have the right to do so. I’m lucky to live in a democracy of sorts, and I truly believe that this is one of the only situations in life where my voice is considered to be as valued and as equal as everyone else’s, regardless of economic standing, race, religion and beliefs. Most importantly, I vote because the people that we elect do have the power to make a genuine difference to the lives that we lead, be it positive or negative, and I want to be able to have a say in that, however small my voice may be.
During the last election I unwittingly assisted the government in forming a coalition, the leader of the party that I voted for went back on everything that he had promised during his campaign, and during the last few years the Education Secretary for the coalition has single handedly been allowed to destroy the profession that I work in. The country is in a mess. Budget cuts has resulted in the closure of local councils, fewer police, NHS staff and resources, Bedroom Tax has forced thousands of people to leave their homes, there are hundreds of thousands of people living on the street while houses are left uninhabited, students are having to put themselves into thousands of pounds worth of debt to be able to go to university, and nearly a million people used food banks last year to support their families.
This year, I faced a dilemma. I want someone to represent me that has an understanding of what real life is actually like. I want my government to have extensive experience and knowledge in the area that they are responsible for. I want to be told the truth in simple, straightforward sentences. I want someone that is strong, who is trustworthy, competent, and who genuinely has the interest of the British public at the forefront of everything that they do. Unfortunately, in my opinion, there isn’t a single party leader that demonstrates these qualities. Of all of the candidates, there isn’t one of them that I have respect for, or a faith in any of them that they will make a positive difference. For me, politics is more about words, image and one – upmanship rather than action. No question is ever answered directly, sentences littered with buzz words and statistics that are designed to confuse the subject have replaced a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ response. Nobody ever accepts responsibility or wants to be accountable for their actions, instead preferring to blame the opposition (or unbelievably, immigrants in the case of one party) for the fact that they are incompetent at their job.
The question is, how do you vote for someone that you believe to be the best of a bad bunch?
I always put time into being as knowledgeable as I can about the different party manifestos, but this time I have looked a little more closely at my local candidates and made my decision based upon that, as well as the big picture. I may not have faith, but I have hope – hope that my vote won’t be wasted, hope that things will change for the better.
Ultimately, and most importantly, I hope that British public take note from the Scottish Independence Referendum last year with their 85% turnout, and exercise their right to vote today…