Published on 14 April 2010 in ,

As you may have noticed, we’re about to have a general election here in the UK – and if you haven’t noticed, what on earth have you been doing?

Coincidentally whilst clearing out some files, I found the piece below. I presume I wrote it for Hydra about fifteen years ago, however it was never submitted nor published. Until now anyway. It seemed vaguely relevant…

The principles laid out, I still believe in. And it is a bit patronising, although to be fair it was aimed more at first time teenage voters at sixth form college. These days I’d write it differently. And I probably wouldn’t use the phrase “posh snobs” these days… But this was then. Not now.

Vote – a formal expression of one’s opinion or choice on a matter of discussion.

polling station

Photograph by Secretlondon123. Creative Commons licensed.

Why have I started this article with a definition from the Oxford Dictionary? Well, there are two plausible explanations for this. Firstly it could be down to the fact that I wish to show a certain high street bank that I do still use the dictionary they thrust into my hands at the tender age of about seven, or secondly, it because I am going to talk elections.

Yes, if you are easily bored about the world issue of politics, and lets face it, when it comes to any kind of election, who isn’t, then you may feel (just ever so) slightly inclined to turn your eyes away from this article. If, however, you have some willingness, just ever so slight, to express some opinion at the ballot box, then take to heart something I am going to say.

What I am going to say, I want to get loud and clear into your hearts and minds right now. Oh all right, if I had wanted to get it clear, perhaps the best way would be to bung it in a big bold headline at the top of the page instead of surrounding it by all this waffle, but hey, the editor expects value for her money, so that’s just what I’m giving.

Oh, okay, I’ll get to the point. I am becoming increasingly frustrated with people’s opinions on voting. Every time there is an election, we are bombarded with people saying the immortal phrase “I’d like to vote for you but I feel as if I’d be wasting my vote.”

Now let’s look at that definition of voting again: a formal expression of (and here is the key part) one’s opinion. That is what voting is all about – voting for what you believe in. No matter what you believe, then you are entitled to have your say, be it Conservative, Labour or The Killer Bikini Transvestites Party. It’s all about an expression of what you personally believe in.

Which leads me onto another matter: people who say things like “Well, I vote Labour because my parents do” or the ultimate one from posh snobs, “I voted Labour to get back at daddy.” Trust me, there are people who do the latter. All of them deserve to be shot.

This too defeats the whole idea of voting. Just because someone else holds some view, doesn’t mean you too should automatically adopt it too. Just because your mother has gone out and bought the latest Robson and Germone single doesn’t mean you should too, nor should you buy it because you believe it has a better chance of getting to number one in the pop charts than the single from Out Of My Hair that you really like. Hey, if you wouldn’t do either of these things with CDs, why do them when choosing a government.

Hey, don’t give me this “those are two completely different scenarios” crap, because they aren’t that dissimilar. In both cases you are supposed to opt for the one you prefer. Just because someone else holds a different opinion, doesn’t mean this should change. So when you go to that ballot box next, just remember what you’d do in a record shop – would you go for the rubbish that would end up in the bin in a few months, or would you opt for the one that you think is best?

Perhaps this sounds patronising. Perhaps it is, but the aim is to get you to think and to use your vote for whom you believe in. After all, voting is about having your say.