Why does your vote count?
With yet another general election coming up in 3 weeks, many in the UK can be forgiven for having ‘voting fatigue’, we have had 4 major elections in as many years!
However, it is important to recognise that being a part of the political process is not only a right but a responsibility. Your vote does count and you should cast it. As a young black person reading this, your voice is currently under represented at the ballot box; consequently your issues are under represented at the decision table. You must participate and exercise your right to vote for there to be any meaningful change in the status quo.
Five reasons to vote on Thursday 8 June 2017:
You exercise your right to choose the person that represents you in Parliament.
As long as you do not vote; politicians will ignore you and the issues that matter to you; they never ignore the grey vote and there’s a reason for that.
It’s free and convenient. You can request a postal vote if you do not wish to go to the polling station and if you do visit a polling station; it takes no more than 5 minutes.
You will live with the consequences of decisions made at the ballot box for much longer than any other voter; why not be a part of it?
You become familiar with those vying for political office in your area; even if your candidate does not win, the elected representative has a responsibility to act on your behalf and you can approach them directly with issues that concern you. Further, those that do not win often carry on campaigning for issues that matter to them. You could join hands with them and bring change in your community.
What do I do now?
Next, find out who is contesting to be your next Member of Parliament. The major parties would usually have candidates – Labour, Liberal Democrats and Conservatives; however other parties like the Green Party and the UK Independence Party may also field candidates. You may also have an independent candidate. Check each party’s website for their manifesto policies; whilst manifestos are usually long documents, they all have bullet point summaries of their policies, so find out which party better suits your ideas and who is promising to deliver what you believe in and what affects your day to day life.
Get more information from television and radio debates and attend local hustings in your area. Some upcoming national debates are:
ITV Leaders’ Debate – Thursday 18 May 2017 – 8pm.
BBC Question Time – Thursday 2 June 2017 – 10.35pm
BBC question Time – Saturday 4 June 2017
Victoria Derbyshire Programme – BBC 2, Daily from 9am to 11am (election specials)
You can request to attend some of these events; go and ask questions. Do not be afraid to speak out on what matters to you and ask what they will do about it.
Finally, do not give up after the election, continue to hold your representatives to account; visit your MP’s surgery (all MP’s hold a weekly surgery), write to them and you can even visit them in Parliament. All of these are your rights as a member of the electorate.