I feel like this is a pertinent time to confess something. I have never voted at a general election. There are a variety of reasons why not- none of them noteworthy or genuinely valid, and I know that I’m not alone in that. Perhaps it is symptomatic of the age that we live in that despite being all too aware of the ladies who chained themselves to cartwheels, threw themselves onto racecourses (intentionally suicidally or not) and risked everything to make their voices heard, I still can’t bring myself to go to a room and tick a box. The main obstacle is this: I just can’t decide. At election times, I curse the fact that I’m a very diplomatic fence-sitting Libra who recognises that everyone is raising a valid point. I decide I’m going to vote one way, and then someone mentions something very provoking and I shuffle hesitantly back to my perch in the middle. ‘My! Aren’t you easily swayed?’ one might point out, and yes… you raise a good point. I would prefer to call it open-minded.
It’s not that I’m not bothered by the outcome. It’s not that I am happy to stick my head in the sand. It’s not even that I don’t want to be responsible for voting in another group of bickering bigwigs to get it all wrong. It’s just that I seem to want a party that doesn’t exist. The silly tit for tat nonsense that gets flung about between parties at this time of year makes me want to avoid all types of broadcasting media until it’s over. The paraphernalia that comes after the political storm is like shipwreck debris. You have to pick between the broken promises made in the heat of the moment, recycle the reams of samey leaflets that came through your letterbox, and wait a long time before ‘the mess that the previous party left behind’ is cleared up and hidden away before anything new seems to happen, by which point, you’ve sort of forgotten what they said they were going to do anyway.
The big parties would even have you think that it’s not even a case of voting for the party that you want to win- it’s a case of voting tactically to block the ones that you don’t want to win. It also locks the battle between conservative and labour. How convenient for them! I think that we need to ignore this plea and vote for who we actually want in office. How do you know that enough people don’t share your opinion to make it count? If you don’t vote that way then that statistic will never come to light! It seems to go against all logic to take into account the way that other voters will be voting when you cast yours. It’s all hypothetical until it’s added up anyway. I really do feel like I’m missing something here. If you want the chocolate ice cream, but you go for strawberry because you think it is likely that chocolate will have run out by the time you get there, then you will never know whether you could have had the chocolate! If you believe something with conviction then go and celebrate that. Unfortunately I’m still wavering a little (I’d like a little scoop of each please, and perhaps a flake?).
My ideal party would look something like this:
-Neither wholly in favour of the individual, nor the society as a whole- they won’t over-tax the self-made man since enterprise should be rewarded (except for the obscenely rich who could really be helping those less fortunate out of the abyss), but don’t keep widening that gap between the rich and the poor either (there’s no denying that money makes money).
-Forward looking- especially in regard to the environment, but also in addressing social and economic problems (no more short-term stupidity like fracking).
-Genuine, believable and trustworthy (party and leader); no empty promises please.
-Realistic world view, but not one afraid of change or pessimistic about the success of big ideas.
-Hardworking and progressive- they see things through properly.
-Unafraid of working with other leaders/ countries that are successful in particular areas (if the model works, adopt it), but always working for the good of the people who voted them in. That is to say, a balanced approach that represents its people on the smaller scale but able to see the larger global picture.
-Motivated by world peace and preservation of the planet and all that is good about humanity, rather than private gains and profitable relationships.
Overall, good leadership should be like a good teacher with a rowdy class full of miscreants. They need to be authoritative, but in a likeable way- we need to want to behave because we like and respect them, not under duress because we are afraid of the punishments.
If only the party I just described above actually existed (perhaps I shall be bombarded with people telling me there’s an obvious choice here- frankly I welcome it!). Unfortunately, as in many areas of real life, compromise is the name of the game. I have done the reading, tried the online quizzes to find my best fit party and place on the spectrum, and I have found them quite helpful. If you’re still unsure, I’d certainly recommend them as a time-saving starting place. It’s given me a much better idea of what to do on Thursday.
In the end, we are all allowed to feel confused, and overwhelmed by the bigger choices life presents. Maybe Emily Davison herself was not entirely decided on what the day might bring when she bought herself that return bus ticket to the Derby- just in case. The point is, we all have a vote and although I have dilly-dallied my way to 26 without using it, it is high time I made my decision and ticked the box of the best fit party. How can I ever hope to see the world I want to see, or even have the right to criticise the government and the decisions it makes for me if I haven’t played an active part in choosing the direction of this democracy? With the right to vote, comes the right to moan, to lobby, to create a society that we can all feel a part of. This year, I’m hopping off the fence and brandishing that biro with conviction.
Some helpful links:
http://www.whoshouldyouvotefor.com/index.php (to show your place on the political spectrum rather than show you a party that fits you)