The UK General Election is on Thursday 7th May. I will of course be voting. Yet many people will not. Unfortunately, there are too many people in this country who share this mentality.
Many people claim that they do not vote because they do not feel that their vote has any value. They believe that it does not matter whether they vote or not. Now, I’m not going to tell you that your ancestors fought long and hard so that you would be able to vote (they did). I’m not going to try to claim that our political system is perfect (it isn’t). What I am going to tell you is that your vote is only pointless when you don’t use it.
There are many reasons to go out and vote. I’ve picked out a few that I feel people should think about.
To support a political party. This is a great test that tells you where you lie on the political spectrum and which party your opinions are most similar to. I sit on the libertarian left, next to the Green Party.
To counteract support for a political party. If you dislike the politics or ideals of a political party (*cough* UKIP), but there isn’t a party you specifically support, then you can use your vote to vote against a party you don’t support.
To demonstrate your dislike of all current parties. If you don’t vote, you’re not protesting against anything, because no party will care. If you spoil your ballot, you’re doing something real to demonstrate that nobody is good enough for you. If everyone who doesn’t vote went out and spoilt their ballots, politicians would pay a lot more attention to the disgruntled masses.
To encourage political parties to change their policies to get the vote of people like you. Political parties are like a company: if you aren’t buying from them, they’re not going to focus on you. They’re going to focus on their customers. In this case, the customers are the people who do vote. The customers get to hear what they want to hear.
If you support one party, it’s obvious why you should go out and vote. That’s why all of the UKIP supporters and the BNP supporters will be voting in this general election. It’s why the Green supporters will be voting. It’s why the last remaining Liberal Democrat supporter will get up early on the morning of the general election and go to cast his vote. Some of those people feel strongly that our country should go in one way or another. Some of them will vote because they’ve listened to too much xenophobia in the media and believe immigrants are the source of all of the problems they’ve heard other people in the country face. Some of them will vote in the way that their fathers voted or based on their perceived class.
If you don’t support a particular party, that’s no reason not to vote. There are political parties that we would all like to be able to vote against. Let’s take UKIP as an example. My father will be voting UKIP because he believes the EU controls us, makes us follow stupid, backwards laws and allows evil foreigners to come into our country and claim ridiculous amounts of money from the government. I will be voting against UKIP because I believe that the UK should not become an isolationist, xenophobic nation that removes itself from the EU, discourages the integration of foreign people into our country and prevents the spread of other cultures. Personally, I will be disgusted with this country if we have an EU referendum and leave Europe, but for many people it’s UKIP’s biggest selling point.
That’s the main reason why I’ll be voting in the general election. If my vote can balance out the vote of a Britain First supporter or a racist (a sexist, a homophobe, etc.) then it will be more than worth it.
Spoiling your ballot is far more important than many people know. Spoiling your ballot demonstrates a desire to vote for a party with real substance that speaks to you; not voting only demonstrates that you do not care (anyone of voting age who genuinely doesn’t care can leave on the next plane to anywhere). Nobody is going to recognise your dislike of our political system or of political parties if you don’t vote, because not voting is the only way that your vote will ever be pointless. Those of you who are really disgruntled should go out and spoil your ballots – I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.
The final point is something that I feel most people simply don’t understand. Lots of young people don’t vote because the main political parties tailor their policies towards our parents and our grandparents: they are more likely to vote. There is no point, from the view of a political party, to try to gain the votes of a person or group of people who historically cannot be relied on to vote. Some of the smaller parties may try it if they do not have policies that will tempt active voters to their side (the Lib Dems tried it with tuition fees and look where that got them), but Labour and the Conservatives already have their supporters. They want to gain the swing voters, not the potential voters.
No political party is tailored exactly to your wishes, but if you don’t vote then no major party is going to suddenly start caring about your beliefs. They are simply going to turn their attention towards those who they know will vote, and attempt to persuade those who have voted for one of the other parties to vote for them, instead. We, as the general public, have to demonstrate an interest in politics so that politics will start taking an interest in us. That may not be how we want the system to work, but sitting around, complaining and doing nothing won’t make it change.
If that doesn’t convince you, then take a look at this list:
- Health (NHS, etc.)
- Public transport (including roads)
- Immigration (both foreigners into this country and British citizens living in other countries)
- Finances (including banking, pensions, and so on)
- Emergency departments
I could go on. If you care about any of these things (or any aspect of our society that government is involved in), then go out and vote for the party whose policies you believe will best maintain/improve these areas. There’s so much involved in politics that you simply can’t dismiss it – you need to be actively involved, however small.
Ultimately, you need to remember that your vote that counts. Don’t use it? Then it isn’t worth a thing.