Following the news this week, you might be pondering the age old election question: does my vote count? Rather than bombard you with facts and tell you how I’m voting, hoping you’ll do the same, I’d like you to cast your mind back. Way back to 1998 and a song from a Welsh band, with a very somber warning. Twenty years later, I finally get what the Manic Street Preachers were saying back then.
If you tolerate this, then your children will be next.
Here’s my interpretation: we are privileged to have choices and we can discard them by sleepwalking through life. We can convince ourselves that we need to buy all the stuff, have all the holidays and drink all the gin, TO MAKE US HAPPY. Or we can open our eyes and ask ourselves if we’re willing to be complicit in what’s going on around us. Pointless wars. Record numbers of homeless. A too-long-ignored climate crisis. Working people living in poverty. School funding cut to the bone. No support for our SEND kids. Perhaps how you’ll be voting is directly influenced by how much you’ve personally been affected by nine years of Tory austerity?
Two serious questions for you
- Where on earth are all our tax pounds going?
- Is the service our civil servants are currently providing good enough for you and your children? (It sure as shit ain’t good enough for me and mine.)
At forty, I cannot remember another period in my lifetime when the UK was more divided. With December 12th looming, I don’t see it improving, either. In fact, I predict the general mood will get even worse. Whether you’re for it or against it, there is no denying that Brexit has shattered our once great nation and left its pieces scattered. Fragmented families barely able to look one another in the eye. Friends disgusted with the other one’s political stance. Couples breaking up because one wants to remain and the other wants out.
We have been given a small chance to put things right and start fixing broken Britain. Now is not the time for apathy or doing what you’ve always done, with no research on how much things have recently changed. Investigate things for yourself. Don’t only get your news from one source. Watch the full interviews, not just soundbites. Make your assessment of what’s going on by seeing the words coming from the horses mouths. Fake news is everywhere and the truth can be hard to uncover, which is why it’s more vital than ever to keep digging.
How does voting work in the UK?
Although many oppose it, here in the UK, we have a first-past-the-post voting system – which means we’re not voting for one overall political party, we are voting for the MP in our own constituencies. Each constituency counts up their votes and declares who the MP is. Then all the MPs are counted and whichever party has a majority of at least 326 MPs throughout the country can form a government. If a majority isn’t secured it will result in a hung parliament and the party with the most MPs will have to speak to other parties to form a coalition. We had a hung parliament in 2010, which resulted in a coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats. And again in 2017, which resulted in a coalition between the Conservatives and the DUP.
Last time the UK went to the polls for a general election was less than two and a half years ago. 2017 yielded some very interesting results: firstly and noteworthy, the Conservatives lost their majority and showed us they were willing to get into bed with anyone to form a government. Lib Dems got some of their seats back after their devastating losses in 2015, following the betrayal of the much referred to “coalition of doom”. Jeremy Corbyn provided us with the biggest shock of all: he united the Labour Party with his Bernie Sanders style people powered campaign.
Some of the marginal seat were literally won on a handful of votes. Take a look at the chart below from the Parliament UK website and now ask yourself: does my vote count?
If you live in a marginal constituency, and feel strongly about changing the current narrative, you might want to consider voting tactically.
Take a look at my own constituency, which has a long-serving Lib Deb MP. He kept his seat on less than a thousand votes in 2017. Tories are hot on his heels in this area, and have been campaigning on local high streets recently. The Green Party, where my heart ultimately lies, had a tiny percentage of the votes in the last election. For me to vote Labour or Green would effectively be handing my vote to the Tories, which I will absolutely avoid doing.
A breakdown of government as it stands today
There are 650 members of UK Parliament, broken down as follows, in alphabetical order:
Change UK: 0 MPs
Conservatives: 288 MPs
Democratic Unionist Party (DUP): 10 MPs
Green Party: 1 MP
Independant/Stand Alone: 35 MPs
Labour: 244 MPs
Liberal Party: 0 MPs
Liberal Democrats: 19 MPs
Plaid Cymru: 4 MPs
Scottish National Party (SNP): 35 MPs
Sinn Fein: 7 MPs
Social Democratic Party: 0 MPs
Speaker: 1 MP
The Independent Group for Change: 5 MPs
Vacant: 1 MP
Democracy is broken and won’t get fixed with business as usual
Mark Zuckerberg was grilled this week by lawmakers on Facebook’s policy of allowing politicians to lie in political advertisement and facilitating election interference. The video above is an eye opening twelve minutes that I’d highly recommend you investing. There has been some incredible investigative journalism which has taken place post-2016. Rules of engagement have been changed forever, thanks largely to Facebook. Documentary The Great Hack is a brilliant starting point for those who want to know more.
With the election less than six weeks away, rather than burying my head in the sand, I will do all I can to help open eyes. Having an apathetical political stance isn’t going to change the narrative. Voting for the party you always have done, purely because it’s what you’ve always done, is dangerous. Politics has changed, and with so much outside influence, there has never been a more important time to take an active interest.
What if the truly disenfranchised and those who usually do not vote start mobilising?
What if politicians started telling the truth, as standard?
What if communities came together, to stand against being polarised?
What if the climate crisis was given as much attention as Brexit?
What if the tax dodging billionaires were made to pay their share?
What if those on the streets were treated with compassion, rather than contempt?
What if SEND kids weren’t seen as drains on society having to “divert funds” to care for them?
What if we all stepped out of our echo chambers and tried to understand the other side?
Hatred, for reasons which truly baffle me, appears to be easier to unite than Love. But what if the narrative was flipped? Surely we’d see so many improvements in society.