23 Mar 2010


This is one of my 'things'. I am so passionate about this, I got up and made a speech about the importance of voting and why I think we should bring in compulsary turnout to my English Lit class. I repeat that speech to adults who tell me that they don't vote.
In the last 2005 General Election only 61% of people on the electoral register chose to vote. Logically, it should follow that only 61% of people have the right to complain about the government, and yet I'm wiling to bet 100% of people in this country have sat at home criticising the Prime Minister at one point or another.
And there is nothing wrong with that. We have the right to free speech in this country, which is a brilliant thing, except that not everyone chooses to use it. The voting public have a responsibilty to to have their vote counted - and it should be considered as important to the harmonious and succesful running of society as paying taxes. Our country is a democracy, and to form a proper democracy everyone needs to have their say. Some will say a democracy is one where people can chose whether or not to vote, but to have 'equality of rights and privellges', everyone's voices must be heard and their votes must be counted.
Compulasary turnout has been working succesfully in the functioning democracy of Australia since 1924. There, voting has increased from 47% to 96% and the general public (particularly youth) are highly politicised. To complain that politicians do not 'do anything for me' is unfair when we are not doing anything for them either. How can they respond to us if we don't care enough to tell them what we want them to do? How can they represent us if we are too apathetic to be represented?
You tell me you don't know what any of the parties stand for - go onto the internet, look in a newspaper, ask your local MP. It's really not that difficult to find out that the Conservatives want to intoduce a United Kingdom Soverignity Bill that would keep ultimate authority within our parliament, and not Europes. The Lib Dem's, meanwhile, want to immerse ourselves in the EU, because there is 'safety in numbers'. Labour would like to form blanket policy with the EU on economy and climate change. They also want to reform the Common Agricultural Policy to improve farming.
That's just one issue. The aims of these parties do differ.
And, I do hate to bring this up, but people fought and died for our right to vote. Suffragettes were reduced to inhuman creatures by force-feeding in goals. In Afghanistan, people literally risk their lives to vote. And some of them do die.
So, if you're reading this, and you can vote but you don't, please do think about it. It is such an important thing - and your vote does count.

This place is made of our votes.

1 comment:

  1. I don’t propose to repeat myself, so all I’ll add is this. I’ve watched the slow strangulation of democracy over the last several decades. It’s almost dead now. The years of reform from a mixed economy to an almost wholly free market one under Thatcher and Blair have brought us to what is effectively a one party state. The policy differences you refer to are trivial compared with the ideological differences that used to exist. They’re just window dressing to keep the illusion alive. Compulsory voting is a horrible idea. I don’t give a toss whether the Australians like it or not. It’s unacceptably authoritarian and denies the very basis of the democratic principle. It reeks of totalitarianism. Until people wake up and refuse to vote in general elections, things will only get worse. I think those who ‘fought and died’ for democracy would be sad to see how their victories have been subverted. The best way to support them now is to follow their lead and engage in a latter-day form of civil disobedience – by not voting for any of the three major parties. None of them are worth voting for any longer. If you must vote, vote Green or something.