Sunday, 3 May 2015

Why should I vote?

I love an election. Exit polls, swingometers, bring ‘em on. But a lot of people don’t, and I can see why.

You’re busy, you're vote won't make any difference, you feel insignificant, you don’t like politicians (I don't like most politicians). There are lots of reasons not to vote.

Reasons to vote

But there are more good reasons why you should vote. Go on, give it a try – you might like it!
  • It’s really easy. Show up at your local polling station and put a cross in a box, That’s literally all there is to it. 
  • We have the right to vote and influence how our country is run – many other people don’t have this right. We shouldn't ignore it. 
  • Voting is your chance to make sure that one of those people hanging out in the House of Commons and making new laws represents the town you live in and the things you care about.
  • Suffragettes gave their lives, liberty and dignity so that women would be allowed to vote. Before that women were not considered capable of making a decision about how their society was run. We were inferior to men. As women who don’t vote we insult their memory whilst benefiting from the more equal society that their efforts led to. 
Who you vote for matters a lot less than the fact that you show up and do it. It’s not a test and no one ever has to know what you wrote on that piece of paper. It can be your little secret.

Whether you put your cross against the local UKIP candidate, vote for the Communist party or scrawl something obscene about politicians, you’re still doing something good.

Voting for single mothers

I’m a single mother. I belong to a group that is stereotyped and reviled by wider society. As a group, we are deeply affected by issues such as childcare, health, education, benefits and taxation.

I hear some heart-rending stories from other single mothers. There are mums wondering how to provide their kids’ next meal, mums living in one cramped room with their children in a hostel, and mums who want to work give their children a better life, but realise that by working they will lose their benefits, ending up with both less time and money to spend on their children.

Maybe some single mums don’t see the link between these problems and politics, but they are linked. It’s politicians that make economic policy, that legislate about child maintenance, subsidise childcare and make the rules on benefits.

And if word gets out that single parents don’t vote, then politicians will never have an incentive to improve anything for us. Why should they if there’s no chance we’re going to elect them?