Wednesday, 6 May 2015


Having only turned 18 a year ago, this is the first time I'll be voting in the general election. I may have only recently pruned my ears to the sound of politics in recent years, but it doesn't take an idiot to know that this election is more different to any that there's been. The UK has changed in many ways since those 5 years gone - there has been a lot of hardship, a lot of strain on the national health system, and a lot of trust lost as politicians went back on the promises they made (as a first year Law student, I and many others feel the strain of spending 9k a year).

There's a reason why people genuinely don't know how it'll turn out, but that isn't exactly what I want to address here. I'll make it brief, because whilst Election Day is tomorrow, tomorrow is also the first of my Law exams. *wish me luck!*

What I want to address is those who say they don't want to vote. And I understand: what use is there in bringing someone to power who you share no common understanding with? Well, the important part of that sentence is bringing someone to power. Not only is it your right, it's your power, our ability as a collective to choose who will represent us for the next five years.

When you think about it, it's quite an incredible sense of control that we have. The reality is that there are more of us and less of those who are and will become part of our government. And, in effect, there are more of us who can bring about change than them, even if they hold the power to make legislation. If the collective choose not to recognise law, there is no law.

Hey, now. I'm not advocating anarchy, I'm stating a fact: When you look at our history in perspective, the major changes which are fundamental to us today were brought about by the ordinary people who suffered. The fight for democracy in England, the campaigning of women to have the right to vote, and that of those wanting racial equality, and our actions today to recognise Palestine as a state. The changes which are most significant to us are those which we and people of centuries past fought for. And while at the time, they were seen as madmen (and women) and generally just rule-breakers, today they are heralded as the people who we show our gratitude to for bringing us to where we are today.

But let's be honest, today's government isn't exactly one to be proud of. The gap between the rich and poor has grown ever wider. While bankers are awarded in the millions for their errors, students are punished for the mistakes of governments passed by having their student loans tripled.

That's not the point, because those mistakes aren't our fault. By deciding not to vote, you're waiving your right to have that sense of control I spoke about earlier. When things go wrong and promises are broken, it is our voices that will create change in the way our government runs. Great change almost always occurs in the face of adversity. It is our dissatisfaction placed into activism which will essentially force our government to change its ways.

Of course it isn't easy, but a people who refuse to recognise a policy are more powerful than a people who chose to have no say in who represents us.

Right down to the root of it, we are placing are trust in whichever party we vote for, and if they break their trust with us then it is well within our rights to hold them to account. Use this right tomorrow.

Zahra D x

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