There are just six days left till the UK population casts its vote and answers the big question of 2016. To Brexit? Or not to Brexit? Everyone has had a lot to say on the issue. Each side have made threats as to what the future holds. On the Remain side, these have been thinly veiled threats. On the Leave side, these have been largely made up threats. But it’s all a matter of perspective, I guess. Continue reading
Once upon a time, the British general election was a matter of global importance. The results would potentially have an effect on hundreds of millions of people across the planet. From the landing of British ships on Newfoundland in 1497 to the handover of Hong Kong exactly five hundred years later in 1997, an empire was administered from London. Covering an area greater than one fifth of the land surface area of the planet, it peaked with a population of nearly 460 million people. No empire has ‘bettered’ those figures. Although as a percentage of the world’s population, the British Empire doesn’t even make it into the top dozen. Did ya know that? The First Persian Empire tops the list, consuming nearly 45% of the people of the planet alive at that time.
But anyway, it’s been a few decades since a UK general election really, really mattered to the world at large. Sure, the country is still a major player in international affairs, but no longer a governor. So you are forgiven if you really have no interest in the upcoming election or who wins. Truth be told, new governments do not often attempt to change much. Elections anywhere really only have a great impact outside domestic borders when radicals take the reigns of key nations, particularly in times of economic turmoil. Germany in 1933 for example. Or Greece, potentially, in 2015. Sorry chaps, but Obama is not a radical in any way, shape of form.
This year, though, the UK election could have a wider impact. Certainly on the European stage. The rumble of feet heading towards the EU exit is growing louder. It might be a foolhardy direction to tread, but it has momentum. One fringe party in particular have lead the way, but it is the the current incumbents who are offering to open the door. The Conservative party have promised an ‘In / Out’ referendum in the next parliament. And frankly, a scarily large proportion of the country are stupid enough to vote based on wot they been readin’ in their tabloid poison of choice. It would be a close run affair, and even the bookies are not offering much difference between the two options.
I don’t read tabloids. I will browse through the online offerings of the Guardian and occasionally buy a copy of the Times. But even then, I take what I read with a pinch of salt. Or at least balance off one version of the ‘truth’ with the other. This election I will probably take more time than I’ve done before to read into the manifestos and promises of each of the main political players. I think you know which way I will likely cast my vote. But nothing is set in stone. That’s an important principal for me. Picking your colour and sticking to it through thick and thin is what you do when choosing a football team to support. The country changes, as does its priorities, its needs, its place in the world. Parties change, both in personnel and philosophy. And my vote changes accordingly. What matters to me are the policies and promises offered for the next four years, and by whom. Can they be trusted? Inevitably, no, they can’t. But which of the evils on the shelf is the least bitter to swallow?
The first party to have stuffed literature through my letterbox are UKIP. The early bird catches the worm. Except, in this instance, UKIP is the worm. Having earlier stated that I have an open mind with my vote, that only stretches so far. Sure, I’ll read their document once I’ve fished it out of the scanner. But I wouldn’t even use this insidious document as toilet paper. Though it may well share the same eventual fate, flushed into oblivion. In a single A5 sheet, UKIP demonstrates what is wrong with many politicians, but something they particularly specialise in. Half truths that paint only half the picture. Insert ‘rich, old white’ between policies and people and the message is clearer.
And I strongly suspect that those raised hands belong to people who have the wrong skin colour or nationality, being herded on to transport trains headed for the other side of the channel tunnel, at the end of a shotgun toted by one of the aforementioned rich, old white people. Or maybe I’m letting my imagination run away with itself. Whatever, they’re a nasty lot. One would have to be Sherlock to see through all the half truths, false promises and rosy pictures that the political combatants are soon to bombard us with. Join me over the next few months as I try to do my best. The game is afoot.
The right to cast your vote in secret is an important one to ensure a free and democratic election. I have cast my ballot today in the 2014 European elections. Just how free and fair an election process is can be tested by the willingness of the voters to forego their right of secrecy and declare the recipient of their vote, comfortable that whilst others may disagree with their choice, they won’t face discrimination or any other adverse effect due to their vote. I’m perfectly happy to tell you who I voted for. I voted for the lesser of
two eight evils.
I keep threatening to run for election as an independent myself one day. Perhaps next year. If I can raise the £500 needed for the deposit. Any donors? If I get at least 5% of the vote, I’ll get my cash back. And so, therefore, will you. But I’ll not bother running for a European election. It has to be the real deal. The General Election. Don’t be overly surprised if you didn’t get your donation back. But there’s always the chance you’ll see me in television, on a stage, waiting anxiously for the results to be declared, hoping that I get at least two votes. My own vote being pretty much in the bag…
So, now you know. I voted Labour. In between uploading those photos and getting on to this paragraph , I had to pause for thought. Should I be posting photos of my trip into the polling station? You’ll note one of those photos shows a sign forbidding photography. In my defence, I noticed it on the way out, not the way in, and nobody said anything to me inside about not taking a photo.
The BBC has this article explaining the rights and wrongs of photography in a polling station. Essentially, there are no rights or wrongs, other than to photograph someone else making their choice – specifically, revealing their choice – is an offence. Polling stations have been told to put up signs forbidding photography even though it seems pretty clear that there is no law to support this policy.
So. To publish or not to publish my photographed ballot paper? Obviously, given that you’ve seen the photos above, I chose to publish. For several reasons. I object, albeit rather mildly in this instance, to being told not to do something when there is no legislation preventing me from doing so. Selfies have been going on for a while now, as have elections. If this were important, there should have been prior legislation. I have satisfied myself that my photo does not compromise any other persons right to a secret ballot. And also because, on the very next BBC page that I turned to, I see that they have published photos taken inside polling stations during this election to accompany their election coverage. Much as I have.
Back to the election. Which has mostly been about UKIP. I hate to generalise, really I do, but I’m going to just go ahead and make an exception. Active UKIP supporters….they do rather come across as a rather ignorant, arrogant collection of toffs and tarts who haven’t yet quite gotten around to acclimatising to the 21st century. It’s a rag tag collection of people who are just like other people, and enjoy other people’s company, just so long as they aren’t…you know…different. It’s a party for racists who didn’t know they were racist. It’s a party for people who can’t tell the difference between officious political correctness and plain old fashioned xenophobia.
But I like UKIP. It serves a purpose. It splinters the Conservative party. Many of the rotten apples of the political world have gravitated around UKIP, identifying themselves. And, one must concede, they have put Europe on the agenda as a subject demanding action rather than empty rhetoric. Most intelligent people do not want the UK to leave the EU. They want to belong to a cohesive, efficient Europe that is flexible in meeting the needs of member nations, that is committed to upholding the sovereignty of individuals nations and that brings economic benefits. As opposed to a domineering, excessive and bureaucratic monster. It’s sadly closer to the latter than the former. Let’s fix it, not flog it.
So, did you vote? Would you vote? How did you vote? Left, right, centre or secretly?