Use Your Voice

A black and white photograph of Zora Neale Hurston next to a quote from her: "If you are SILENT about your pain, they'll kill you and say you enjoyed it."
Photographer: Carl Van Vechten; Photo Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Carl Van Vechten Collection, LC-DIG-van-5a52142

This blog is mostly about writing, not politics.  I’m saying that now so that you know I’m not going to make a habit of this.  There is a pretty important election on tomorrow though (you may have heard about it?), and I wanted to mark the occasion.

I’m not going to urge you to go out and vote for a particular party.  Those who know me personally will be well aware of my own political views, but that’s not what this post is about.

I’m also not going to argue that this election is about one particular issue (security, welfare, the NHS- take your pick, really), and that everyone should vote with that issue in mind.

What I am going to suggest is that, regardless of which party you support, you do two simple things:

1. Check out the Policies

There are many reasons for voting for someone: they might have an honest face, a good voting record, or lots of experience.  They might have really magnificent eyebrows*.

Before you let any of these factors decide your vote, familiarise yourself with what their party stands for, and what they’re intending to do once elected.

Politicians may be are definitely untrustworthy, but the only way that we can hold them to account is to charge them to keep their promises once they’re elected.  Policy pledges and manifestos are those promises, so we should know about them.

Voting on what you’ve heard, what the papers say, or your gut feeling about a given candidate is the same thing as voting blind.  Don’t let other people dictate your political opinions.  Check out the policies yourself, and make up your own mind.

The excellent people over at Vote for policies, not personalities have put together a handy quiz you can take to flag up which party’s policies you agree with the most.  It’s a quick way to find out which party best represents your views.

2. Get out and Vote

Just get the f*ck out and vote.

Whatever party you feel should be in power.  Whatever causes are closest to your heart.  Get.  Out.  And.  Vote.

Even if you’re feeling under the weather, it’s raining cats and dogs, or your polling station is a bit of a trek.  You don’t need a polling card, or any ID.  Just turn up at your polling station and vote.

If my profanity hasn’t convinced you to vote, let me address two of the most common arguments I hear against voting:

1. My vote won’t make a difference

Your vote is THE ONLY CHANCE YOU HAVE to make a difference.

We’re lucky enough to live in a society that cherishes the right to free speech.  That means that we can say whatever we want about politicians, the environment, the decline of western civilization, etc. all year round.

Here’s the thing, though: no one has to listen to us.

Tomorrow, June 8th, is the one day when the people in power have to listen to what we’ve got to say.

We get approximately 1 shot every 5 years to make people listen to us.

Don’t waste it.

If we can post to Facebook complaining about the state of the nation, we can take ourselves off to the polling station, and vote to make it better.

2. Politicians are all as bad as each other/ I don’t want to vote for anyone

Before you say this, to yourself or anyone else, see if you can name three policies from each of the major parties’ manifestos.  If you can’t, take the policies not personalities quiz or have a look at the policies, and find out what they are.

You might be surprised at what the parties stand for, and how different some of their stances are.  If you find some policies that you happen to agree with, GO OUT AND VOTE FOR THEM.

If you don’t, then go out and spoil your ballot paper in protest.  Spoilt ballots are at least counted- which is more than can be said for ballots that are never filled out at all.  The folks at Vote or Vote None have some thoughts on how to do this to achieve maximum effect.

Your vote is your voice.  Please use it.  Don’t let them kill you and say you enjoyed it.



* Dem Eyebrows Though.

Credit to Sofi Emily Aldridge over at The Briar Fox Blog for introducing me to the wonders of tactical voting by eyebrows.

A Picture of Alistair Darling
Licensed under Creative Commons 3.0 Br.  Antonio Cruz/ABr – cropped version of

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