There's just one week until polling day. It's almost here, that one day where the British population get a real say over who runs the country. We get to directly influence what happens in Westminster and decide on our next government. It's not just another day watching the pantomime of Labour and the Tories fighting it out on TV, or occasionally mulling over Question Time on BBC iPlayer, or getting angry at yet another controversial UKIP councillor's racist comments. We actually have a voice, we get to discuss policies that would affect our lives, we can affect change and our opinions finally matter to politicians. Well, I wish it were true...
Like millions of voters, my vote won't count. The likelihood is yours won't either.
I couldn't be a more politically engaged young person, and yet my democratic voice will be ignored. I am the national co-chair of the Young Greens (the youth branch of the Green Party), I sit on the National Union of Student's (NUS) National Executive Council, I have previously been the Campaigns Officer at my old Students' Union in Manchester, I actively campaign for free education and I get involved in as many other issue campaigns as I can fit into my life. So when I cast my ballot in the constituency of Stoke Newington and Hackney North on Thursday for the party I truly believe in and have spent years campaigning for, that my informed decision will not affect the result makes me pretty angry.
The majority of seats in this country aren't even disputable - they are safe seats. These are constituencies where either Labour, Liberal Democrats or the Conservatives have huge majorities over other candidates. They don't need to do that much to get re-elected, and opponents on all sides hardly get a look-in. Our political system is designed for a two-horse race, a contest where it's as simple as which of the two competitors crosses the line first. The answer isn't tactical voting, as some might argue. How can I accept that voting for the second worst option on the ballot paper is progressive? For me, I understand who represents my opinions, and so when I vote Green that should count.
People are sick and tired of same-old politics, the two giants fighting it out for who gets to run the country. I hear so many people frustrated by the focus on the deficit, ignoring local issues such as access to local services, education and housing. Of course five years ago the Liberal Democrats looked like an alternative, but little did we know of what was to come. Now the Liberal Democrats have become a parody party, the epitome of liar politicians to young voters like me (and the NUS have really capitalised on that), whilst the Labour Party whole-heartedly sign up to further cuts in vital services. Now, they all look like shades of blue. What if I don't like blue?
It is shameful that so many people voting in this election will not have their voices heard. How can we call ourselves a fair country if only some voices matter? On May 8th overwhelming the majority of those elected MPs in our national parliament will have had huge majorities in their safe seats. They will win easily. All the votes for other parties in those seats won't count.
Those ignored ballot papers represent the missing voices of millions in our country. How is that a good democracy?
It is time for voices across the political spectrum to speak up about the vital changes we need to our democratic system. Our democracy needs to reflect the opinions and voices of every citizen. Every voice must matter. Every vote must count. Political party's obsessions with the financial deficit ignores an even greater problem in our society - our democratic deficit.
It's time to launch action on proportional representation now.Suggest a correction