Over the years, and in many different election campaigns, I have lost count of how many times I have heard that exact line. I do have sympathy for those who say it, but they are wrong. After all, can one single vote really make a difference? In real terms and as individuals, possibly not. It’s only when you look at the numbers of all those who do not turn up to vote you realise the importance, and that the system is fundamentally flawed.
In the 2015 election, over a third of all potential voters did not turn out to vote. That number in itself is shocking. People have become apathetic and disillusioned by politics. To hear politicians arguing relentlessly and mocking other politicians can be very off-putting. Probably the worst thing of all is thinking that politicians don’t care, or have a vested interest in what the ordinary person is facing in life.
We have come to take the ability to be able to vote for granted. In 1918, most of the men who fought for this country during the First World War, and of whom a great many were killed, did not have the automatic right to vote. In those days the right to vote was restricted by sex and by property qualifications.
In this general election, if you are one of those people who says it doesn’t make a difference, try to think about things a little differently. Your grandfather or great-grandfather may have been one of those men who faced insurmountable odds in those muddied and horrifying trenches of the First World War. They may well have never made it home again. These were by and large working class men, facing a brutal end from a powerful enemy, who were fighting for your freedom that now allows you the right to vote.
This country is changing with the event of Brexit. We face a relatively unknown and uncertain future. In reality, it was a result that our government did not expect to happen, and when it did they were not prepared for how the EU were going to react to our imminent withdrawal from Europe. Whether of not you agree with the result, the vote for Brexit showed that when people engage in the voting system, they can achieve change that even the most influential politicians can fail to envisage. A version of Brexit is going to happen, but we need to ensure that is works for us all.
This year, record numbers of young people are registering to vote. That in itself is a very uplifting sign, but they still need to turn out on polling day and let their voices be heard. Each and every one of you can make a difference. Each and every single one of you has a right to be heard. If you are one of those people who think that voting doesn’t change anything and politicians don’t listen to what you want, then make yourself heard. Get involved. Use the democratic right that your ancestors fought for.
If you don’t vote then you can’t complain if nothing changes, you will very likely be made to rue the missed opportunity to shape the future of the country.
The town where I live has been in a Tory stronghold all of my life. It sickens me that we have known nothing else and the young people of this area don’t have a voice. It’s estimated that only around 27% bothered to vote in the local elections.
A Tory councillor won in my ward. I have never seen her before, although she did post a video telling the town what she had done for the area – infuriating, as it was full of blatant lies. We must ask ourselves, why are the Tories allowed to lie and never be held accountable?
I have yet to see anything in the way of policy from the Tories. All I have seen so far is a robotic sloganising leader who seems to have courted the ultra right and garnered the support of former UKIP voters.
We are better than this as a nation, surely? I recently joined the Labour Party for the first time in my life. I am proud to be a member of a party fighting for what is right.
I argue relentlessly on social media against those who condemn Corbyn, but have little interest in his policy. The common lines are “but he supports mass flood of migrants being allowed free access to a country” or “he will destroy our armed forces and leave us vulnerable to attack”. It shows the power the press have over the masses. They take ill-informed statements as gospel but fail to see the damage the Tories are inflicting on the poorest.
Make no mistake though, this is Corbyn and the Labour Party fighting the elite, and each and every one of us needs to stand up and fight against the image that the right wants for a post-Brexit, tax haven, low paid Britain.
If you haven’t already, register to vote before 22nd May.