Election 2015: 5 Reasons Why You Have To Vote

Election 2015: 5 Reasons Why You Have To Vote

Journalist, writer and political commentator Zoe Williams on why using your vote really will make a difference.

1. It is really, truly infuriating to be called “apathetic”; doubly so - there is steam coming out of my ears right now - to be called “apathetic female voters”. Refusing to vote is no sign of apathy; but you can only categorically prove you’re not apathetic if you turn up.

2.  Governments are much more susceptible to pressure from the ground when they’re in coalition, than when they have a clear majority: the Cameron/ Clegg alliance was hopelessly sensitive to arm-twisting, which is why a European in-out referendum is now on the table, where previously it was a very niche issue that only a few people in selected pubs ever cared about. When loud voices are able to penetrate the thick skull of the parliamentary system, don’t, whatever you do, stay silent.

3. If you want to change the voting system. If you don’t want to vote because you’re disenchanted with politics, and you’re disenchanted for the (perfectly legitimate) reason that votes only count in marginal constituencies, this is the time to vote for a party that wants to overhaul First Past the Post: which is basically any party that isn’t Conservative or Labour.

4. There is every chance that this election will yield some unexpected results: safe seats that turned out not to be that safe after all, minority candidates whose engine was pokier than you thought. Whether for good or ill, when that result comes in, you will absolutely kick yourself that you had no part in it.

5. Some MPs actually do care. While I was writing my book, Get It Together, it became increasingly clear to me that there were large, systemic problems - with housing, wages, energy, education - that the mainstream political machine was no longer capable of addressing. Simultaneously, it was plain that, if not most (most is a strong word), many MPs are genuinely decent people who would love to make more of a difference but are stifled by the prevailing atmosphere of what is considered “realistic”, “mainstream” and “acceptable”. It has been said during this campaign that parliament was designed to represent the people to the state, and has morphed into representing the state to the people: but a lot of its members don’t like that any more than we do. In a curious way, MPs are as impotent as we are, they cannot force change until they can hear us. Even if you can think of nobody who fully represents your views, or nobody who has a chance of getting in, vote anyway; so that nobody forgets you exist.

Get It Together by Zoe Williams is out now


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