There is a General Election in the UK this year. It’s on 7th May. Which is exactly eight weeks away. If you are eligible to, please go and vote.
Why should I vote?
A hundred years ago, I would not have had the right to vote. As a female, it was not a liberty I would have been afforded here in the UK. Thanks to the tireless efforts, campaigning and activism of strong women, such as Emmeline Pankhurst and Annie Kenney, most women over the age of 30 were first granted the right to vote in 1918. This was amended in 1928 to include women aged over 21 (in line with the rights given to men). The voting age for everyone was then lowered to 18 in 1969.
Since I turned 18, I have voted in every election held: European elections, General Elections, local elections, elections for crime commissioners. Even when I was out of the country on my gap year, I had my mum vote as my proxy. The universal right to vote fundamentally represents the democracy we live in. Voting gives us the power to influence how our country is governed; it is our way to speak up. It reflects the work of the suffragettes a hundred years ago. It reflects the ongoing work of our armed forces at home and abroad in ensuring our liberties. It reflects our history, our present, and our future.
By choosing not to exercise your right to vote, you are saying that you don’t care how our country is run, that you aren’t bothered about who comes into power, that you’re not interested in the effect that politics has on your daily life and on your future.
The 2010 General Election reported that national turnout was 65%. There were approximately 49 million people of voting age. Around 29 million people did vote. Of these, about 10 million people voted for the Conservatives. As is the nature of the UK’s political system, the Conservatives were therefore invited to form a government. Whether you like the Conservatives or not, the outcome of the last election put them into power. If you want them to remain in power, or if you don’t, then you need to vote.
Who should I vote for?
- Think about what’s important to you – Healthcare? Education? Welfare? Immigration? The environment? Security? Business?
- Do an online quiz and see what the outcome is – if nothing but a bit of fun, it does give you an idea of where along the political spectrum your interests and opinions might lie.
- Research and read about who is running in your constituency and what they stand for – don’t be afraid to email them or contact them for more information. Their purpose is to be a representative, so make sure you’ll feel they would be able to do that.
- Talk to your friends and family and ask their views and why they hold them – they might have a particularly strong belief in something and that may influence how they choose to vote.
- Above all else, vote for what you believe in and for what matters to you.
How do I vote?
- Register to vote: its easy to register now that its all done online. You can choose whether to vote in person, by post, or by proxy.
- Going to vote: on the day (if you’re voting in person), you just show up to the polling station (you’ll be notified of where yours is, but it’ll usually be quite close to where you live), then you register, fill out your ballot, post it into the box, and you’re done – it’ll take less than 15 minutes.
Please remember that being able to vote is a right that some people around the world are still not entitled to. We are priviledged in this respect. Please do not overlook the efforts it took, and continues to take, to allow us this liberty. Choose to educate yourself about politics, choose to be open-minded about politics, and choose to show up on the 7th May and vote for our country and our future.