08 September, 2008

Right to vote

Now then, if any female over the age of 18 reading this doesn't know who that woman is you should be asking yourself what you actually learned at school. That, my dear sisters, is Emmeline Pankhurst and without her and women like her you'd still be the property of a man.

I know what you're thinking. You're thinking, "Christ on a bike, it's going to be one of those feminist rants. I'll come back when she posts more LOLcats." You're wrong. It's not. It's a rant about voting.
We have local elections on Saturday and voting is compulsory. That's right, compulsory. I have to get up, get dressed, leave the comfort of my coccoon and turn up at the local primary school to pick which buffoon is going to have a say in what happens in my local area. Whoop de fucking do.

Don't get me wrong, I think voting is fantastic. I am eternally grateful to those brave women (and men) who gave so much in order that I might be able to go and put a cross in a box. I just don't think I should have to do it. The way I see it, voting is a right, not a duty or a responsibility. I know others see it differently but that's just my view and I don't think it will ever change. Making it compulsory takes away my right and turns it into something else.

"But what if no one voted?" I hear the Aussies say. Well, someone would still get elected. Voter turnout to me gives a good insight into the mood of the people. Low turnout? People don't give a shit. Major apathy. Things aren't going well. The politicians are more than a little bit crap. High turnout? Oooh, the public are pissed off and they're exercising their democratic right to show it.

"But you don't have to vote. You can spoil your paper." That's not the point. You've already made me get up, get dressed, leave the cococon and turn up. There's no bloody point not voting once I'm there, is there? I object to being made to turn up in the first place.

Gah. So, who to pick? Being an ex card carrying member of the British Labour Party (hey, don't blame me, I cancelled my membership in 1998) you'd think I'd vote Labour here. Well, no. I don't know why I won't. It might well have something to do with not being able to bring myself to vote for a party which can't even spell its own name properly. Anyway, I've seen a picture of the candidate and he's a shifty looking bugger if I ever saw one. It's bad enough that my local MP is that tall, bald geezer from a rock band. The Liberals? I Googled the local candidates and the first link I got was from a gay website telling me how all three candidates were openly gay. What they do and who they do it with isn't going to get me to vote for them but it makes a refreshing change from all the closet homosexuality in the Tory party.
Green? Dunno. I'll have to look into their policies. There's an Independent candidate, he looks alright. Besides, he wants to put a mobile police station outside the local pub on Friday and Saturday nights. Now that's a vote winner.
I used to love voting in the UK. I wanted to vote. I couldn't wait to turn eighteen so that I could finally make my voice heard. I took pleasure in taking my ballot card down to the local primary school and getting my name marked off. I'd take my voting paper into the polling booth and mark a big X next to the name of the local Labour (see, that's how to spell it) candidate. I'd walk out, go home and have a cup of tea, silently thanking the Suffragettes. I don't feel thay way now. I don't know if that's partly the fact that I don't feel I have a vested interest in Australian politics or the child in me doesn't like being told what to do.
So there you are. I have to vote and I'm not happy.


NiC said...

Yes, I agree, I despair at the low turnouts we get so often here but really don't think compulsory voting is the answer. Engagement with the whole process must be the way to go.

SSS said...

That's exactly how I feel!

Foodycat said...

My mother has been known to say that if you don't exercise your right to vote they will take it away from you. I happen to think the problem with low voter turnout in Britain has a lot to do with having it on a Thursday and not having sausage sizzles and cake-stalls as a part of it. I also think we are an apathetic bloody planet (Douglas Adams ref) and if we aren't made to vote we really won't take an interest.