If you are exhausted by the word “vote”, don’t read any further. But if you want to know why this is relevant to you, stay with me.
I write this as Jon Stewart in New York (The Daily Show) is interviewed by Channel 4 news tonight, live. His prediction for the election outcome is that the British people will eventually work their way through the Miliband family until they “find one they like” and that the current main party competitors, Cameron and Miliband have been wise to lower the public’s expectations of what kind of leader to hope for. Whether in jest or otherwise, there is no denying that most people have an opinion about the current state of play in our country. The real question is whether voters’ true opinions will be reflected on their ballot papers at their polling station this Thursday.
Party election broadcasts (hammers smashing clocks, really?) are supposed to make us feel passionate about mistakes made, lessons learned. But essentially, what have we learned? 100 years ago, women fought for their suffrage and those over the age of 30 were finally given the right to vote if they met the minimum property qualifications. Today, women still fight for equal status but gender distinctions remain; Labour’s pink minibus was a strategy deployed to positively communicate to women voters but this gesture received mixed sentiment.
Women fought to have the right to vote and won; for themselves and for us today. But having the right to vote is not enough; exercising your right is key. Some will argue that because of the electoral system, your vote may not matter. If your constituency has historically always belonged to one party, you may believe that no matter whom you vote for, the outcome will be the same. But five years ago, a coalition government was formed, in part because people wanted change. And that change was communicated by the electorate getting up, getting out and voting.
I hadn’t realised until recently that you could actually swap your vote. Many people will be strategically voting in this election to try and drive the outcome they desire by swapping their vote with someone in a different constituency. The concept of vote swapping hinges heavily on trust but essentially trust is what voting is really about. Do we trust the party we vote for to deliver the promises they say they will make? We will only know if we actually vote for them first. I for one and with many, will be going out on Thursday to vote and I trust that my vote will be counted and will make a difference. Can I trust you to vote?