This morning I walked my daughter to her nursery as I normally do on Thursdays, but we took a bit of a diversion. In fact we walked in the opposite direction. I wanted her to come with me as I voted.
She's 3, and she usually picks up far more than I imagine she can, so I tend to talk to her about everything. I explained why we vote, talked through the process of voting as I did it, from picking up my ballot paper, marking it, and posting them (district and borough councils too) in to the appropriate boxes.
You see, there are many things I want my daughter to be when she grows up - happy, confident, strong, passionate, free. But this morning, more than ever, I also want her to be a voter.
I despair when I read of people who can't be bothered to vote. If you don't vote and feel that politicians don't care about you and your needs, you're the reason why. Elected politicians are self interested in this way. They have to be. Their existence as MPs or councillors depends on getting more votes than the competition. If you don't vote, why should they be interested in your needs? They don't need to woo you to vote for them. Far better to focus on the wishes of those who do, such as pensioners, and racists.
Here are some common reasons not to vote, and why they are no good reason at all:
What I believe isn't represented:
Then spoil your ballot paper. In fact this goes for all the points below. Seriously, that means something. It demonstrates that you are someone who will vote if engaged with. All votes are counted, recorded and announced for each constituency - and that includes all spoiled ballot papers. If the 34% of registered voters who don't vote, all bothered to go to a polling station and spoil their papers, it would be announcing to the political class that there are 16 million people just itching to vote for someone. All they need is to be listened to.
My vote won't make a difference:
Yes it does. Even if you're in a safe seat, and you're not someone who supports the incumbent party, your vote adds to the statistics. The reason why Green issues have become something mainstream parties take onboard is because of the large amount of people who have voted for the Green Party in recent elections.
All the parties and candidates are all the same:
They're not. If you believe that, then you have not taken the short amount of time needed to differentiate them.
I'm just not interested in politics:
You're living in complete denial. Politics effects everything you do, from what you watch on TV to how much you pay for your weekly shop. You can march, campaign, use as many hashtags as you want. Real change eventually requires politicians to legislate.
As this is a parenting blog, I'll round up with this. If you're a stay at home parent and want more tax breaks, parental leave equality, etc., only elected politicians can change this. If you can't buy your first family home, only elected politicians create and control the legislation that can enable this. If you want the best education possible for your child, only elected politicians can achieve this.
Voting is about engaging with something bigger than you, being part of something that affects the lives of not just you, but your family, friends, colleagues, and all the people you don't know yet, and those you never will. Your vote matters to them. Not voting is not just lazy, it's a selfish.
These politicians elected today will shape the future your child will live in. The voting patterns recorded today will shape the political conversation from tomorrow onwards. Basically, if you give a shit about your child's future, you will vote today - whether it's for the party/candidate of your choice, or the one who will keep out the one you don't want, or if it's simply to spoil the paper. Your apathy is selfish and unacceptable.
So please, go out and vote.