Politics – head or heart?

In case you don’t know, here in the UK we are in the run-up to a general election. Because I don’t watch the television much, I’m not seeing many of the interviews/debates/sound-bites etc, which means that most of what I know comes from selected reading via the internet. I think this is the right choice because many journalists do seem to prefer sensational rather than balanced stories.

In the UK as a whole, the two main parties are the Conservatives (right wing) and Labour (left wing). However, in the constituency where I live neither of these parties ever get elected! Which means that, whichever government is in power, it’s unlikely to be one including my MP (unless there is a coalition ). This can be positive and negative. On the one hand, I feel that I’m not having a say in the ruling party, but on the other I probably wouldn’t vote for either of them anyway and so at least there is a chance that the person I do vote for will be successful and gain a seat in parliament.

I will be putting a mark on my ballot paper

I will be putting a mark on my ballot paper

In my heart I really want to vote for the Green party – many of their policies make sense to me and and they don’t seem to be swept along by the big business aspects of politics. I took the survey on the website Who Should You Vote For and it confirms that the Greens are where my allegiances lie. In addition, the local candidate lives just a few doors down from me in our street and this means I can pop round and have a chat if I feel like! However, my head is telling me that maybe I should vote tactically, which would mean selecting a different party. I still haven’t decided, but one thing is for sure – I will be voting.

A quick internet search reveals many opinions about whether we should vote or not, but I feel strongly that I want to engage with the system. An article in the Guardian from 2014 speaks to me about this subject:

The basis of social justice therefore has to be a state of permanent awareness, resistance and protest. The best you can do is to have an informed public engaged in a continuous struggle to maintain and improve on overall social welfare, human rights, human dignity and justice. In the absence of vigilance and protest, the rise of anti-democratic structures and barriers to social progress is inevitable…. each citizen needs to have a vision of what he or she wants our country and our world to be like. We should bring those visions to bear on our political engagement. If the major parties don’t sufficiently represent your vision, then vote for a minor party. If none of those represent your vision then sure, consider not voting as a part of a broader political strategy but don’t take the decision lightly. Simply taking your bat and ball and going home is unlikely to achieve anything on its own. (Warwick Smith)

I want to live in a country where we all have an equal say – men and women, rich and poor, young and old – so I will be exercising my democratic right and I hope you will do too next time you have the opportunity… even if that is by spoiling your ballot paper – an action that also sends a clear message.

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  1. Head vs heart – it’s a shame there’s always the dichotomy.

  2. sandidureice

     /  April 8, 2015

    As I understand it, the stronger the parties on the periphery, like the Greens, the more balanced is the parliament. If you have an elected Greens MP in parliament they will be able to put forward, or hassle, the elected government with what is important for Greens voters. Hence you have your say. Sandi

  3. Voting is compulsory here, you get fined if you don’t, so exercising your democratic muscles is not an option! Sadly, the choice of politicians and parties here is between one scoundrel or another, or between well-meaning incompetents. We do have a voting system which allows you to select one whilst expressing a strong preference for another, and the secondary votes are also counted and included. You CAN have the best of a bad choice…

  4. I don’t know how your party system works there….possibly like ours, since, as a colony, we follow the Westminster System…..with minor party’s preferences going to the bigger party of their choice. Like you I want to have my say and also want my vote to go to the Greens, but know they don’t get the numbers and so there’s little chance of having an elected representative in either state or federal Parliament. My solution is to talk to the local Green’s candidate and find out where their preferences are going. If I don’t want that party to gain a majority …..usually the Liberals or Nationals, who both support coal seam gas mining…..then I’ll give Labour my vote. It’s rare the Greens give their preferences to either of the pro-fracking parties, so I’m usually safe with my Green’s vote. It also sends a message that the Greens are serious contenders, and there are lots of us out there voting for them. this way, I get to use both head and heart 🙂

  5. We have a phrase here in the US that is unfortunately too true. How do you tell if a politician is lying? His lips are moving. The politicians that try to do the right thing will always get run over by the money running the others. It’s all about money and power, not serving the people. It’s been that way since the beginning of time and I don’t expect to see change in my lifetime. There are some big machines running things in the world and if I look too closely, it would terrify me so much I might never get out of bed again. So I do the most honorable things I can and pray real hard that something changes. It will take women to change the world. Sorry, I shouldn’t have commented on this. Politics make me crazy. 😦

    • I’m glad that you did comment – it is important that we all have a say about such things. And I agree – we should all do the honourable thing – in whatever context.

  6. Well I couldn’t agree with you more – apart from voting Green that is! I’m a Lib Dem councillor and have been for many years. It’s been a real eye opener being in government for five years. Some of my colleagues have found it very hard and want to be back in opposition and some have relished the ability to put the policies we have worked hard to formulate into action. Either way I agree it is massively important that people vote, and have a say in who is running things. I was last elected in 2011 on a 29% turnout in my ward. So 71% of voters couldn’t be bothered to vote for representatives to the council that is responsible for housing , benefits, street cleaning, car parking etc, which I think is sad. I like that the coalition has mixed things up – that smaller parties are now getting national attention and have a good chance of getting in to government. But I probably would say that 😉

    • I bet it’s those 71% who are the most vocal in complaining when they don’t get the services they want too 😦

    • I’m very impressed that you are actually out there doing it! I’m incredibly saddened by the fact that less than 1/3 of people think it is worth turning out to vote… especially when local politics are so important to us on a day to day basis. Keep up the good work – you have my admiration.

      • Thanks. I’m currently in the middle of an election campaign – and because we’ve not had a district election on the same day as a General Election for over 30 years (before my time!) we have no idea how things are going to pan out with a larger turnout…

  7. In the US the only place where things can happen is at the local and state level. Where I am, things happen locally and bubble up and get compared with other localities or states and redesigned and eventually might end up contributing on a national level. Nothing is happening here in Congress as they’re a bit crazy and have straightjacketed themselves with bitter angry partisanship. For the national elections I vote for the person whom I think will do the least harm. On the state and local levels, I vote with head and heart together. If you’re discouraged with the national level, work at the local level because you can make things happen there. I wish I’d seen the unruly debate your candidates all had a few nights ago! Good luck.

    • I am fascinated by US politics – the strange situation with having a separate presidential election so that your leader my not necessarily be backed by your national politicians is something I find quite bewildering. You are quite right that working at a local scale has to be the answer – I’m sure that that is where individuals can make a difference.

  8. I am voting green on the basis that if you vote for the lesser of two (or more) evils you are still voting for evil!

  9. So right . I have never had the luxury of having my choice as an MP. I have always voted with my head and it has got me nowhere. This time my heart ru

  10. I vote greens. There really isn’t any other option to be honest and as they won’t ever achieve majority government, their preferences usually go to the biggest party that I can stand so I figure I am voting with my heart AND my head. At least you are voting. If we all did it, we could change the world.

  11. Twillingart

     /  April 17, 2015

    Why not vote green and express your dissatisfaction with your other options? To me this is the point of voting…not to ensure a win but to contribute your voice. I think ultimately you’ll come to be comfortable trusting your heart. Best of luck on the journey.


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