For the majority of my life, I've lived in a town in Kent, which is so conservative it has voted Tory every year that it was possible to do so, since elections began. This is apart from once, in 1923, but they recalled him after a year and voted in a Tory again. Now, as a feminist, and a strong believer in the values of democracy, I feel an obligation to vote. It is something people all over the world have fought and died for the right to do. The right to have a say in the decisions that affect your life. Yet, to me, there is always a sense of futility when I head to the polls. I know, that my vote is worthless. I am left-wing. I vote Labour or Green, and they have no chance here. My town will inevitably elect Michael Fallon again, despite his appalling record, (voting against gay rights, against human rights rights laws, voting against spending on welfare, voting against taxing the rich, etc) like they have for the past 20 years. This year, in the council elections, the Greens, who I usually vote for, didn't even put up a candidate; what is the point against this inbuilt Conservativism?
Over the years, I've tried not to let it get me down. It was so nice when I was at University in Birmingham, and my vote actually counted. Then, I felt a real sense of pride and hope in voting. But unfortunately, you can only stay at Uni for so long and then you have to move back home. So, I've thought to myself, what can I do? At first I thought I should try writing to my MP. That's not something that went well. I first wrote to him to express my horror about Theresa May colluding with Donald Trump and refusing to condemn the Muslim Ban. He responded that we shouldn't concern ourselves with the immigration policies of other countries. So then I wrote back and I said, okay then if we're talking about the UK's immigration policy, how is it fair that the DUBs scheme is being axed. This was a scheme which said we would take in 3,000 refugee children, but was axed when we had taken in less than 500. Then he replied and said that Britain had a history of taking in the most vulnerable, (which isn't something I'm sure is true and our colonial impact surely created a lot of this vulnerability in the first place, but that's not the point) and then he said that the scheme had not closed which was just a downright lie. So I gave up then. I'm still not sure what my next move is. I will not stay in this town forever, but I still have a sense of loyalty to it, and I want it to vote for policy, not for party.
Since I have been eligible to vote, the one time I have felt genuinely hopeful about the future of politics was when Jeremy Corbyn was elected the leader of the Labour Party. It finally felt as though there was a left-wing voice in politics again, and one that people were listening to. Since that day, Corbyn has been up against the odds. He's not perfect, but he's not been given a fair chance either. The press is dominated by the right wing. One mistake and he gets torn apart. May is making blunders on a daily basis (confusing learning disabilities with mental health, not knowing the costs of her manifesto, hosting events attended solely by conservatives and avoiding the public, saying work is the best way out of poverty when 55% of people in poverty are in work, U-turning on her dementia tax) and she still gets to appear strong and stable because the media let her. Corbyn is out there with policies I actually want (axing tuition fees, increasing minimum wage, ending zero-hour contracts, investing in mental health, renationalisation of the railways, stopping privatisation of the NHS) and it is so nice to have someone in politics who I can agree with. (My girl Caroline Lucas has been doing the most forever, and she is my hero, but as much as I wish this wasn't the case, Greens are outnumbered severely in parliament).
I'm scared that this election is going to be decided by the older generation who vote against the interests of my generation. I'm scared for all the people who are going to suffer if May remains in power. When I've asked older people about it a number of them have said 'Well I like his policies but he's a bit scruffy' which is baffling to me. Why would you rather have someone who is evil in power just because she looks the part? You can tell Corbyn's heart is in the right place, surely that should count for more than appearances?
I feel hopeless. My town isn't going to be swinging to the left anytime soon. Nearly all of my friends are left-wing, but we're outnumbered by the older generation. And so my town is probably going hand Michael Fallon his seat again, without him having to do any work for it. It makes me furious. I feel alone. I feel like my future is being stolen from me. We don't truly have democracy in a first past the post system. I shouldn't feel like this. My vote should mean the same no matter where I am in the country when I do it.
Of course voting is only one part of the democratic process, and for the past 3 years I have participated in politics both in demonstrations and online. I will continue to be active in whatever ways I can. But if only my vote actually counted for something, perhaps it wouldn't all be necessary.