It’s election season here in the UK. The politicians are out in full force, there is news article upon news article about what each party is offering. What the politicians said, wore, how they smiled and even how they ate.
Political disenfranchisement and voter apathy is rife amongst so many people I speak to. It seems as though fewer and fewer feel that they have a say in political decisions or even relate to the people who are meant to represent them. It’s what comedian George Carlin explains so eloquently, the illusion of choice. It seems like our politicians speaking using vague terms like ‘working people’, ‘immigration’, ‘things that really matter’ ‘Fairness’ ‘British people’ yet they all sound and looking the same.
The difference between the parties is almost hard to distinguish and it becomes a game of who can shout the loudest or seem the most personable instead of what they are actually saying. In response voices like Russell Brand encourage people not to vote as the ultimate form of protest. While I can see his point, I truly believe that the ultimate form of protest is to exercise your right to vote.
This was brought home a couple of weeks ago watching the brilliant Selma. Seeing the men and women that fought so hard for black people to have the right to vote. People that were willing to die to have a voice that was denied them. A say in decisions that affected their lives and communities. Quite simply that’s why I’ll be voting. Because i can, because I have a voice.
It is a powerful thing it to be able to vote today. I am black & a woman two things that would have stopped me being able to vote only a hundred years ago. However statistics show that people from my background are less likely to vote. They show that a smaller percentage of the poor, young and people from black and ethnic minorities vote.
Last year in Glasgow it was amazing to experience the run up to the Scottish vote for independence. Seeing how passionate people could be when they felt that their vote could make a difference. An amazing 97% of the adult population registered to vote. People young and old were engaged in the debate, taking part in various ways and the leaders for once had to listen to what the public was saying.
Imagine how different the political landscape would be if we felt this way every time we had the opportunity to cast a vote. The more we vote and the more we get those less likely to vote (young people, ethnic minorities and people from poor communities) to vote the more we can get politicians to make policies that positively affect us. This is evident in the currently policies and the rhetoric which is directed at the issues that concern those who vote.
As Martin Luther king says
“we shall have to do more than register and more than vote, we shall have to create leaders who embody virtues we can respect, who have moral and ethical principles we can applaud with enthusiasm.”