As you know, I was less than delighted by the outcome of the general election. The general election in which I voted for the first time in my life. The general election in which, as predicted, the safe seat I live in, had a walkover majority and everything remained exactly the same locally as it has done since the last ice age.
I have, however, the satisfaction of cocking a snook at the naysayers who tell me that it is my ‘duty’ to vote in the election, and that if I don’t vote, I don’t get to complain about the state of the nation.
Well, I did vote. My vote, as predicted, was a wasted vote, and because of the lack of proportional representation, might as well have been a giant piece of toilet roll, for all that it was ‘counted’, but I do get to complain. Oh yes. I now absolutely have the ‘right’ to complain.
And I am aware, by the way, given that I have understood the difference between proportional representation and first past the post for a very long time, longer it seems that even Mr. Farage, who only really woke up to it on Friday, that if PR were a reality for us as a nation, that on Friday we would have had a Conservative/UKIP coalition running the country, and I agree that it would not have made me any happier than Friday’s results did. But, it would have been a fair and true representation of how this nation thinks and votes, and maybe that would have forced more apathetic people to get off their arses and do something, pronto, and it is the ‘doing’ of things that I am interested in, rather than the moaning and the duty and the rights of things.
Back to the moaning:
Apparently, despite my now valid ‘right’ to moan, the newspapers and much of the media are saying that no actually, if you voted for the losing side, you don’t get to complain. You must respectfully stand by the will of the majority of the country and the democratic voting process that allowed them to vote for their favoured party.
Like moaning is going to suddenly bring Cameron to his knees.
I agree that there are some people who are taking things too far. There always are. I do not think you should pour vitriol on people because they don’t hold the same views as you (although I make an exception for UKIP supporters). I do not think you should harm people because they don’t hold the same views as you (even UKIP supporters), but I think the right to express your differences of opinion is key to the democratic process.
We have not elected a dictator. We are still part of a democracy, and until Gove gets his hands on the European Charter of Human Rights, we still have the right to free speech. If we can’t have the party or parties we want, then we should be able to complain like billio.
Oh, and I would just point out that as politicians are being very vociferous about people having to ‘suck it up’ and be polite, it would have been nice to see more of that politeness and acceptance of other people’s politics in the run up to the election instead of the smear campaigns and the knocking of each other that did go on. What you’re really saying is: ‘Do as I say. Not as I do.’
Well, what I say is, feel free to have a moan, but for God’s sake, get off your arse and ‘do’ something if you’re not happy with the election results. Get involved in your community, put something back, campaign, sign a petition, march. Do something, ANYTHING that might make a difference in a real way next time if you feel that bloody strongly about it.
I already ‘do’. I volunteer at my son’s school. I am currently building my second school library in three years. I listen to children read. I help teach children to read. I care about literacy rates in children, so I’m getting off my arse and doing something about it.
I decided, over the weekend, that this is not enough anymore though. I want/need to do more.
Here’s what I’m doing:
I joined the NOTA campaign, which means that withholding consent or approval of any/all political parties could become a real possibility.
I’m signing more petitions. It might seem silly, but it is often the small things that can make a difference. This week I have signed a petition against Michael Gove’s proposal for the UK to opt out of the European Charter of Human Rights. (Dear Lord, you have no idea how much this idea terrifies me. Literally terrifies me).I have signed a petition protesting against Cameron selling off another huge chunk of the NHS to private businesses and I have signed a petition calling for the government to rethink its policy on slashing millions of pounds from the further education budget in this country.
I’m educating myself more. I want to know exactly what is happening to this country. I don’t want to be complicit in something I don’t agree with because I didn’t take the time to find out what was going on. I think if more people actually took the time to understand what was going on in the UK, more people would vote, and more people would get off their arses and make a difference. I’m also talking to the children about it. They’re the next generation of political activists, after all.
I had a big clear out this weekend and took a whole load of stuff to a friend who helps run a homeless charity. They’ve had to expand operations recently because there are so many families who aren’t homeless but who are on the breadline, and they need help. I’m carrying on that clear out over the next few weeks, and everything that can be taken, and that will make a difference to someone else’s life, will be taken.
I’m going to start donating to a local food bank again. I did it for a while last year and then stopped donating for some reason I can’t quite understand. Well, that’s going to change.
I’m getting more involved with charities I support. I usually donate regularly to one or more, and fundraise for specific events, but we need what these charities provide more than ever, now that the lifelines that a welfare state offered are gradually being severed. If I can do something, I will.
They’re all tiny things, but if we all did the tiny things, politicians might not be able to get away with the big things. Life is full of tiny things, and they all add up in the end.