Dear members of the British voting public (and interested parties from around the world),
I really hadn’t intended to write this post. I know some people are getting fed up of hearing about elections and politics in general. I know some people think my opinions are too strong, or are expressed in the wrong way. Still, I figure it’s my blog – I’ll write whatever the hell I want! #sorrynotsorry
I used to be like that. The first election in which I could vote, I didn’t. I couldn’t see how politics impacted on me, the parties were practically indistinguishable and I thought all politicians were grasping, greedy and power-hungry. (Generally speaking this opinion still stands) As far as I could see Labour were “spend, spend, spend”, Conservative were “save, save, save” and we just bounce in between them like a table-tennis ball.
Nowadays, I see things a little differently. I’m a mother, looking into the future of my children and seeing how my decisions today might shape that. For the first time in 30 years, I claim benefits to supplement an income which is hard-earned but doesn’t stretch far. I’m an ambitious woman who wants to go forward in a world where it often feels like I’m swimming against the tide.
The one thing this election (and all previous elections) have taught me is how different we all are and how you can’t always predict what a person’s opinions and values will be. On a day-to-day basis you might discuss whether you prefer tea or coffee, X Factor or Britain’s Got Talent but it’s only around elections that you find out what people truly stand for.
I try to be respectful of other people’s opinions, I really do, but it can be hard sometimes, especially if I just can’t understand their view point. When a colleague says the vote UKIP because there are too many Polish people on their street, or a relative votes Tory because they don’t like Diane Abbott, it can be hard to hold my tongue. I do try, but sometimes I bite back…It’s a flaw, I know.
A few people have recently told me that the trouble nowadays is people have a sense of entitlement. That we should be happy with the little we have, instead of clamouring for more. The fact that most of the people saying this to me live alone in 4-bed detached houses and shop at Waitrose is particularly interesting to me.
You see, I do have a sense of entitlement. I grew up in a working-to-middle class family, in a 3 bed detached house with a garden and garage, a nice car and regular family holidays. I went to university and held down a weekend job to help support myself. I grew up believing that if I worked really hard, one day I would have my own 3 bed house, and my nice car, and I would take my children to Disneyland. We would live a modestly, comfortable life as is the right of hard-working people.
Well, now, I do work hard. Compared to some people in my field I earn a very decent wage. Yet, I own half a house, with next to no hope of ever buying the rest. I do have a car, albeit a very cheap one, but my children have never been on a plane and Disneyland is at best a distant dream. My children may go to university, but if they do they will leave with more debt than I have ever had in my life, and no guarantee of earning an income large enough to ever pay it back. So why shouldn’t I want the things I was told would be mine one day, and listen to people saying I would have them if only I’d worked a bit harder.
I know I am still VERY privileged in comparison to some families. I am fortunate to have generous parents and in-laws who support us and treat us now and again. I also live with the knowledge that in present circumstances, I couldn’t offer the same for my children. If Miss Mess can’t afford the deposit on a house, she will have to rent. If Mini Mess can’t afford a car, I won’t be buying one for her. If they have financial struggles, there’ll be very little I can do to help. I’ll probably still have my own.
I work in a school where I have seen student numbers drop, but class sizes increase. I have watched as teachers and support staff have been made redundant and seen the emotional and financial impact this has had on them.
I appreciate the NHS, which I may one day rely on for the health of myself or my family. I certainly could not afford private healthcare and I never want to be one of those tragic cases where a family creates a Just Giving page to pay for vital treatments.
I am not saying that one party is to blame for this, or that another party can fix it, but I do say I have to look to the parties who seem to want equality and fairness, instead of widening the gap between the haves and the have-nots.
I promised myself I wasn’t going to talk specific politics in this post, but I think we all know that was unachievable. For the first time in my life I’ll be voting Labour. Past Labour leaders have never appealed, looking like watered down Tories, but with Jeremy Corbyn I see a truly different kind of politician. He’s not perfect (who is?) but he seems to be a man who stands by his principles, even if they open him up to ridicule. The current Labour policies most match what I believe to be fair and right, and so that’s where I’ll put my X today. Maybe a different set of eyes will shake things up a little…
So, off you go. Place your vote, for whoever it may be. I’m not trying to change your mind and don’t for a second think I could. Another thing this election is taught me is how people can dig their heels in and stubbornly stick to their choice, just on principle. All I ask is that you read around, inform yourself and pick the policies, not the people.
Don’t rely on ONE source of information – these are often biased, mainly because the creators have something to gain from the outcome.
Don’t refuse to vote for a party because you don’t like one of their MPs. MPs change – the ethos behind the party probably won’t. Heck, I used to be pretty right wing. If Teresa May could come up with one policy that doesn’t involve keeping her rich chums rich and murdering foxes she might be able to win me over.
Only time will tell who will win today’s election, and only time will tell what the impact will be on our country. I have my own prediction, and having been disappointed by all previous election results I’m not expecting anything new tomorrow. Usually I watch the election results like the Eurovision contest – it’s fun but unimportant. I don’t think I’ll watch tonight – I care too much about the result.
Ultimately, deal with the election however you want. Get angry, be satirical, feel frustrated, ignore it all together. It’s your life. Just don’t be surprised if other people react to your decision – it’s their life too!