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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