It’s National Voting Registration Day today*. The name is pretty explanatory and if you haven’t already signed up to vote in this year’s incredibly unpredictable general election then you can now do so online, which finally caters for our sedentary, apathetic online lives. I’m pleased there’s a push to get people to vote and I’m pleased they’ve finally made registering easier. It feels only a few steps away from allowing us to do the vote itself online, meaning for those who trundling a few steps down the road in the name of democracy is too much of a hassle. But while I’m pleased, it makes me sad that it has to be done at all. I have never been able to understand why, when the livelihood and well being of pretty much everyone in the UK depends on the government that’s in charge of it, that people can’t be bothered to have any say in how that goes. I can think of nothing more depressing than just assuming everyone else will make decisions for you as quality of living continues to get worse through voter neglect.
It’s probably too late already to add to this blog, but this isn’t a rant to say you should vote. I wish everyone would, but it’s up to you. That’s the nice bit of a democracy and I suppose the sometimes self defeating bit. If you don’t want to vote, just don’t. I can see 101 reasons why people feel like it’s not worth it right now. First past the post voting means that in some areas there are no real challengers to the throne, so if you want to vote against the MP already in that seat it feels like there’s little point in bothering. Looking at the parties overall it feels like there is little choice in terms of policies or direction and so whoever you vote for you might assume you’re only going to get the same result of someone intent on personal profit and who’s terrible at Twitter, over someone who actually cares for their constituents. And what if you vote for one of the fringe parties? What if that just means you’re taking a vote away from a party who has a chance of winning, therefore only landing us all with a government we really don’t want which judging by the lack of choice will be the result anyway? My dad used to say ‘no matter who you vote for, the government always gets in.’ He stopped saying this after I pointed it out in my stand-up show that of course they do. That’s what voting is for and how useless it’d be if you voted for someone and government was instead just replaced with a tiger. Though to be fair, a tiger would be great.**
I’ve been doing several university gigs lately and I’ve been asking the often quite savvy crowds if they’ll be voting. At each one there’s always been at least a third of the room that says they won’t. My vague and failing attempts to prove them otherwise involve explaining that if young people don’t vote, only old people will. As someone who is gradually turning into an old person I can sympathise with the idea that as we will die at some point sooner than the young people, why should they have fun without us, and therefore let’s vote in someone shit to ruin young people fun. Not sure any of the students really believe that, especially as I’ve made it up from my brain. I understand their apathy too. Young people are hugely ignored by politicians, and their future prospects get worse every year with less and less decently paid job opportunities, no ability to get on the housing ladder and a healthcare service that might not be there for them when they want a family or get old.
But the argument is there that young people are ignored because young people aren’t voting. If all those eligible to vote did, the government that were elected by them would have to listen to them, or their jobs would be at risk next time round. Really though, there’s a good argument to say that this here is the rub. Because this argument applies to everyone, of all ages. And all categories of living. You know why people from your age, your field of work, your financial class, your gender, your ethnicity, your ability, your hobby group, your educational background, that share your housing situation, your transport needs, your needs for outdoor space, your needs for indoor space, your type of pet, your favourite colour, your favourite Marvel character, your odd OCD tendencies, your sleeping habits, your irritation at people who stop on the wrong side of escalators, are ignored? Because you’ve ignored voting and so the MPs you haven’t voted for, that don’t depend on you, won’t care for your needs.
This next election feels like it has a wonderful air of unpredictability. The last election felt like we were teetering out of a two party system, even if it landed us sadly into a coalition of misery. This one, with much less love for the main parties, and a despair at their lack of difference, means we could have a coalition of more than two parties or even a re-election soon after to determine who should actually lead the government. If it comes to that, the parties may actually have to fight for votes rather than chanting out dull rhetoric about whose fault is what and who’s to blame for things. They might have to promise policies and changes that appeal to people. So I’m not saying you should or have to vote, because I’m not your dad and you don’t. I just don’t understand why you’d want to be ignored. But then in my job, I thrive on getting attention so maybe it’s just a selfish thing. Which is exactly why I’m going to vote, and you wouldn’t want a government that only wants to cater for comedians now would you? Exactly.
* You can register to vote online here if you haven’t already and want to: http://bit.ly/1EG0Vvx
* * Yes I know you wanted me to type ‘Grrrrreat’ but I’m not going to. I’m not your dancing monkey.
That blog was long enough so I thought I’d post this as an extra bit below that you don’t have to read if you can’t be bothered. Me and L recently joined our local Green Party. Now before I continue, again, I’m not saying you should. I hope you vote for who works best for you. I’ve seen a lot of people who’s opinions I really admire recently berate anyone considering voting for Greens as it will take votes away from the other supposedly left wing party Labour. Yes it will and in Haringey, where I am, Greens have a pretty good chance of beating Labour, coming second in the euro-elections and having a lot of support in the area. This isn’t why I’ve joined the Greens. It’s because they are the only party that have policies I like. They are the only ones who seem to be decent people that aren’t wanting to inflict further austerity, or welfare cuts. They are concerned about the EU for the right reasons like TTIP and believe in a living wage. I’ve been told that they don’t know what to do with the NHS, but personally I don’t feel like anyone does. Labour started the privatisation and degredation of the NHS, and it feels to me like they are making promises about it now as they know it’s the only way they’ll gain public support in a battle they should really be easily winning. The Conservatives continued Blair and Brown’s plans with a rapidly accelerating viciousness. The Lib Dems…well, what’s the point? And UKIP have no love for it at all, believing in an American style welfare system. So why not take a punt on someone actually knew who’s actually promising things I like? Our local candidate seems great too.
As I said, it’s my choice, and not one I’m going to force on others. I just have finally felt, especially with an election that really could go either way, that I’m sick of tactical voting. I only get one go to do it once every 4-5 years. I may as well vote for who I want to. That’s what I hope you’d do. Whoever it’s for, remember that you can just vote for who you want to get in. You might think they don’t have a chance but that’s primarily because of thinking like that preventing votes for them and I find that sheep mentality. If my vote doesn’t get the person in I want then I’ve at least tried. If the Conservatives get back in, well I won’t believe it was due to my one vote, because that one vote won’t have been for them. A vote for whoever you vote for is only a vote for whoever you vote for. That’s how voting works. I have a feeling Scotland will lead the way on this with votes for the SNP looking like they’ll eradicate all other parties in the area. That’s how you do it. That’s how you make changes. So yep, Greens are my choice*** because that’s who works for me. I hope you have a party in your area that seems to represent you.
Also, when I was younger I was told to eat my Greens. I’m hoping that by voting for them instead I might get curly chest hairs. You never know till you try.
Incidentally if you do want a Green candidate in your area – and like I said, this isn’t a push if you don’t. I mean I don’t care, it’s your life chump face – then they are doing a crowdfunder to be able to get representation in more areas over the UK. If you feel like donating, the link is here:
*** Of course if there was a FUKP candidate in my area, they’d definitely get my vote. Vote the Guv for Guv’norment, yeah? http://thepublandlord.com