Honestly, the way everyone keeps on going on about boring politics (apart from, unsurprisingly, The Metro) anyone would think there was a major election about to happen. Oh, hang on…
So what is a person to do? In the UK, it would seem, this is a far more complicated question than you would think. You might assume that just voting for a party whose policies you actually mostly agree with, and are a little bit more how you would like the country to run, seems like a safe bet. Apparently not.
But why does it have to be so complicated? The first place to look is, of course, our voting system. After having read what people from other countries think about our the way our votes work, it was interesting to note that this ‘First Past The Post’ nonsense is seen by others as a bit of a strange UK habit, rather like having beans for breakfast or putting milk in our tea. If it weren’t for this absurd system, there would be no need for the website that allows you to ‘swap’ votes with someone in a pivotal seat, or for the cry for ‘tactical’ voting not just by the people, but by the MPs themselves. Which I would treat with extreme caution. Of course the main political parties want you to think it’s a two-horse race. When I told a friend I was voting Green, I was greeted with “oh, you don’t want your vote to change the government then.” I was incensed. Of course I do, that’s the whole bloody point. As long as voters continue to buy into the idea that they only have two (or at best, three) options, the ‘minority’ parties will not be treated with the respect they deserve. Until we get a better voting system, it’s the best we can do. Here’s a radical idea; what if everyone that believed in them voted for them? Then the powers that be would be forced to reconcile with them, accept that the majority of the public are no longer happy with their limited view of the progress of the country, and actually be forced to take their policies seriously. Seems obvious to me.
Or, you could not vote at all. Russell Brand says so (well, apparently now he wants you to vote Labour). But then, he says a lot of things. While it’s great that someone so prominent gets us thinking about politics, let’s not get too swayed by someone just because he looks good in skinny trousers and has opened a trendy cafe in Hoxton. So yes, you could be a ‘protester,’ and say that the parties have nothing you believe in, and refuse that right to vote. But the problem is, no one will know. Or rather, no one will be able to tell the difference. You might be sat at home tweeting furiously about your brilliant slap in the face to modern politics, but when the votes are counted, how will they tell the difference between you and the person that couldn’t be bothered to get off the sofa? Or got the date wrong? If you genuinely believe you are protesting, then actually protest. Go to the ballot box and mark your slip with your dissatisfaction. Lobby your MP, start a protest group, do something. Because until you do, you’re just another person moaning about the system without actually doing anything about it.
Whatever you decide to do tomorrow, don’t buy into the rhetoric that nothing you do makes any difference, that it’s all the same. It isn’t. If we don’t stop bouncing around between two same-yet-different parties, this country will bear the scars. More than it already does. Having worked in the education system for years, I was completely disillusioned at the new ‘policies’ that got thrown at us on a daily basis. At one point we were teaching three different year groups three completely different syllabuses, all because of knee-jerk reactions to concerns about ‘standards of education,’ rather than real change fuelled by actual research. Until we send a clear message to MPs that we are not interested in this kind of politics, that we want a more stable, mixed government, that looks for long-term solutions to problems, not quick fixes, we won’t get anywhere.
So I’m voting for a party whose policies I mostly agree with, and have a vision a little bit more how I would like the country to run. Maybe it doesn’t have to be that difficult after all.
Just remember, not so long ago, the only people that could vote were white, privileged men that had no connection to the average person. How ironic that this same demographic now basically runs the country. We don’t want that anymore, do we? See you at the polling booth.