Well it is election time in the UK but thankfully the campaigning is nearly over and for once I’m genuinely interesting in the outcome; not because I am much in the way of political inclination – the last time I got excited about Party Politics in an election year was when I successfully backed the horse of that name to win the 1992 Grand National – but this time round I genuinely have no idea what the final result will be, other than no party is going to have a huge, if any, majority.
I have always made an effort to use my vote in whatever election, as a fundamentally believe that it is important to do so. In my Genghis Khan moments I have felt that it should be compulsory to express your vote, even if it is ‘none of the above’ because while the vote might not change anything, you are certainly not going to change things by not voting. In St Albans, the vote does matter as it is not obvious which way the seat will go. That has probably encouraged a little bit of interest in the process, as for most of my early life the environment I grew up in did not really encourage debate. I grew up in a former mining village in North East England where they Labour party could have put up a ferret as a candidate and it would have won with a massive majority. Maybe they did at one point, just for a laugh, in the same way that every generation of students think that putting up a cat for student common room president is funny (although considering how effective many students can be, the cat would probably do a better job).
So it is almost refreshing to be in an area where the rest is not assured. But, as I say, voting is important, and moaning about a government that you did not vote for – when 60% of eligible people cannot get off their backside to even spoil their papers does not cut much ice with me.
After all, it is not as though we do not like voting per se, or ‘X Factor’, ‘I’m a Celebrity…’ and a host of other awful shows would probably creep back into obscurity. In my Facebook feed the Radio Times seems to run one vote after another on increasingly pointless subjects and clearly get a response by doing so. In the last few weeks I’ve voted for my choice of National Bird of the UK (personally I favoured the Blackbird, but apparently Sweden already has that so maybe that was a wasted vote), and that the marvellous Pitt Rivers museum in Oxford should get the chance to have an art installation (over a bunch of other prestigious institutions). Voting seems a natural tendency in many people, to express choice and to some extent show approval.
All except it seems, in the area of politics, where either we don’t care (‘they’re all the same, those damn politicians!’) or we don’t want to be seen to approve any of them. Well, the reality is we need politics as much as we need teachers and police, other groups of people that do not get the respect their professions deserve. If the people filling those roles on Thursday aren’t the highest quality (and I am not expressing a judgement here, just raising the question) then it is our own fault. We are too quick to criticise and moan about the society we live in and far too slow when it comes to engaging in any activity that might, just, improve it a little. If you do not like the current bunch, go into politics yourself – or if you do not have the skill set (which I do not) encourage those that do. I am as guilty as anyone when it comes to apathy but at least I take the responsibility for which way I will be voting on Thursday and hope others will do the same.