However, in recent days, an event occurred that everyone, privately or publicly, has had an opinion on…The General Election. Now, for the most part, I try to avoid getting ‘blogged’ down in the black hole of comments and criticism any controversial topic on the internet receives. However recently, I have strongly felt that I should not resist writing about these things due to a fear of internet loudmouths. But I am not going to write about them just to get a reaction either. The General Election, and the public’s reaction to it, have fascinated me the past couple of weeks. This post is more about my own process of working out the politics of my country, addressing my own freedom of speech to an electoral result that, while it was the majority decision, has left many disappointed and disillusioned about the future. Also..Matt cartoons
After reading a lot of articles, engaging in many discussions with my flat mates, and reading some of the outraged status’ on Facebook, politics has been flying around my brain. Mainly due to the amount of information and opinions I encountered. And strangely, none of this wealth of information seemed to clarify anything for me. If anything, it left me more confused, frustrated and entirely distrusting; “The Tories raised our student fees..” “No, it was the Lib Dems who pushed that..” “First past the post is the worst system ever” “The NHS is going to be made private…” “David Cameron was a member of the Bullington Club, can’t trust a word” “Death to UKIP” “Our politicians can’t do anything.” “Our votes don’t even matter”. Just a few of the opinions I encountered during this process.
So I became considerably concerned that I place my little cross in the right place.
Now let me state a few things:
a) I am a bright, educated young woman at a top 10 university in the UK. Despite my position as an Arts student, I do not believe in ignorance and so I make an effort to hold myself to a standard of understanding about contemporary topics in my society and the wider world
b) I believe the act of voting is important and no one should abstain from it
c) I believe as a woman, voting is especially important. Women fought and died for our right to vote. Simple. Don’t disrespect that.
d) I also believe in human nature and the fact that people love to complain, love to be controversial and that whatever the outcome of the election had been, there would always be people on my news feed ranting and raving about how this country is going down the drain.
So what was I to do as the election loomed? I felt bombarded by policies, accusations, memes and information. None of it seemed very positive. To my mind, it appeared the country had decided that there would be no good outcome (see point d). What I also noticed, especially amongst my generation, it that voting Tory is pretty unpopular. I suddenly felt guilty about my right-wing leanings and that has only increased since the results. Despite what people might publicly say about the Conservatives, once they got to that poll booth, the majority of the country saw fit to keep the Tories in charge. So why should I feel guilty about my decision to vote for them? I feel I made this decision out of knowledge, out of an understanding of the options open to me and because I feel this party should be given another chance to continue what they have started to implement since 2010, although this time without the Lib Dems pushing their own priorities. I am not claiming to be an expert, but I should be able to be proud of the informed personal decision I made. I may never understand the intricacies of government, but I will not be running for parliament anytime soon (or ever). Yet the outrage at the results of our democratic process has worried me, particularly an article in the Independent and various comments from my own peers. Did I make the wrong decision? Is the predicted doom and gloom of our nation now foretold with the continuation of a Conservative agenda? The writers, the bloggers, the activists and the opinionated would have me lose all faith in our political system. A petition even popped up on Facebook stating ‘The 2015 General Election has shown once and for all that our voting system is broken beyond repair.’ It calls for a fairer system, a ‘more proportional voting system which ensures that seats in Parliament match the way people vote.’ I am once again highly confused. Surely the people did vote and the majority vote has won? I do not feel anyone asking this has explained how they would change it for the better (And Google only goes so far). All in all, the general feeling is pretty bleak for many.
And finally, despite my stated belief, I am still surprised as to why people are so set to complain. We are incredibly lucky to live in a country that has democracy, resides in the top wealth bracket of the world, allows the freedom for internet trolls and campaigners to express their sometimes frustrating opinions, and a country that on the whole, has solid leaders not oppressing the people. Proportionally, the UK voting system is a far better one than many countries. Proportionally, it is not just a right to vote in this country but a privilege. And absolutely, I am grateful to live in a community which encourages us to vote. That we have that basic right. And despite the confusion, the inconsistency, and even the hatred I might get for adding my voice to the post-election commentary, I revel in the freedom and right that I have to examine ideas and participate in the future of my country.