Returning volunteer, Paul Thompson, shares the importance of everyone’s vote in the upcomping general election.
1994 isn’t that long ago. Nirvana, Jurassic Park, the World Wide Web, and the birth of Harry Kane all pre-date it. And yet, 25 years ago, South Africa was only just having its first fully democratic election. A quick google image search will show you photos of thousands of people queueing for miles and miles to have their voice heard. The sacrifices Nelson Mandela and others made to allow black South Africans the same rights as white South Africans were not lost on the general public.
We are some of the luckiest people in the world. We didn’t have to fight for our right to vote. Not even our grandparents would remember a time where any adults in our country couldn’t vote.
However, according to the NGO Freedom House, 37% of people in the world don’t live in a free democracy. While students in Hong Kong are barricading themselves in their university to protest the anti-democratic Chinese regime, students in Loughborough don’t have to fight for this right.
“But my vote doesn’t matter” I hear the person next to me in a lecture say. While it is unlikely that a singular vote will make a difference, imagine if everybody thought this way? Nobody would vote and politicians could do whatever they wanted because they knew that nobody would do anything about it.
In the last election, nearly a third of all people didn’t vote. If they’d all voted for the same party, whoever that party was, that party would have been in power with a majority for the past two years and therefore the shape of the country would be completely different.
“They’re all the same!” Nope. Not at all. Do you want the country to leave or stay in the EU? How much do you care about climate change? Do you want more money for hospitals or schools or housing? Google search “who should I vote for UK” and there are countless trusted, unbiased sites that will give you information about the policies of each party. Whatever your views, it’s likely that somebody out there will represent your views.
“But none of them represent my views!” This can be a big issue, especially in this election where the major parties are so different. However, you may be in a constituency where, although you may not agree with everything one party is saying, you REALLY don’t want the current MP to stay in power, so you can vote to get them out of power. If you’re in a situation where you don’t want any of the parties to be in power, you can spoil your ballot; scribble, draw, write your true thoughts – anything that isn’t a tick in a box. Spoiled ballots are counted and if the parties realise that most of the votes have been spoiled, the big parties will want to change something.
You could still choose to not vote. But if you choose not to vote, you’re choosing to not have your voice heard, and therefore you can’t complain with however the government ends up.
Billions of people live in countries where they can’t do anything about their government and have to just live with whatever their leaders dictate. You are not one of these people.
Register to vote online here by 26th November at 11:59pm: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote
Featured image by Sofia Azcona