For various reasons I’ve not been able to write anything for this site for a few weeks, and somehow we’ve reached early May already, and the elections are looming. It now seems most important to write about that.
Generally I try to avoid the overtly political on these pages, but have occasionally veered that way, because of interesting happenings in local politics, because webcasting of council meetings has enabled greater insight and engagement, particularly when the debate has been focused on places this site focuses on, like King’s Square.
So, in five days we’ll be going to the polling stations to vote for who we want to represent us on the local council, and for a new MP. Or some of us will.
Many of us won’t. This is often assumed to be because of a lack of interest. It’s not quite as simple as that, in my experience.
I’ve had conversations over the years with friends who are interested, and fully aware of the importance of the right to vote, and seriously think about the issues, but find that there’s no one they want to give their vote to. In recent years I’ve got the impression that many of us who are committed to voting, to using that right, would like a ‘None of the above‘ option.
I do have faith in our democratic processes, and I’ll always go to the polling station and do my best to make an informed choice for myself as an individual and for what I think is best for the place where I live and for society in general. I’ve always seen the vote, and voting, as an important and special thing. I remember seeing the phrase ‘REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACTS’ on poll cards in the past, and feeling that it reminded us of some of the history and weight of this, this simple act of voting, now so taken for granted.
It seems particularly important to at least be registered to vote, even if you don’t use that right. Earlier this year a friend who has moved home since the last election got the standard letter through the door about who was registered to vote at that address. It had no one listed. My friend didn’t intend to change that, and had put the form into the recycling box, having decided that the whole thing was pointless, that we couldn’t change anything with our votes, that small local actions mattered more.
To me the idea that the house would have no registered voters, that months away from polling day a decision was being taken to not claim that right, well, it didn’t seem right. Debate and discussion followed. And by the end of the evening, accompanied by much laughter at my ‘win’, we went out in the dark to retrieve the registration form from the recycling box on the pavement where it was awaiting collection the next morning.
It is of course too late now to register to vote if you haven’t. But if you have, you may perhaps have been pondering as I have where you’re going to put your crosses this time. I’ve been having quite a quandary about it, and thinking about it for months, as I don’t think I can vote in the way I have in the past. In the next couple of days I think I’ll add another page or two about that, as it seems more important than other things at present. Elections don’t happen that often.
I might write about other things too, it being May and all, and everything being all lovely out there in the springtime streets. This partly depends on my recovery from various repetitive strain injuries affecting my ability to type, on whether an intermittently malfunctioning keyboard decides to malfunction again, on other work commitments, and the need to sometimes get away from the screen and cycle giddily about now it’s lighter for longer. If you fancy some giddy cycling, or just some interesting reading, and have missed my words, you could always buy my book …