Apologies for the Hamilton reference – take them as a sign of a blog post rather than something more fiction based.
Yesterday the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Theresa May, announced that in 7 weeks time we will have a general election. The first thing I did was register to vote – and if you haven’t then GO DO IT NOW. But. For the first time in my life I don’t really want to vote in this election.
Disclaimer – OBVIOUSLY I AM GOING TO VOTE. This is going to be a bit of a rant about all of the reasons I don’t want to, and the frustrations I have with politics in this country (and generally( at the moment, but none of it means that I won’t cast my ballot on the day. Of course I will. I know how important it is. I know how many people fought and died for my right to do so. I know that there are women (and people in general, but my gender is a contributing factor in this instance) around the world who don’t have the rights and privileges that I do and I owe it to them to take full advantage of my freedom. I know that there are places on Earth where I would not be allowed to write things like this, where two options would be a miracle, and all of those things. I am incredibly grateful for all of the privileges I have. But that doesn’t mean it’s not fucking frustrating every time I look at the news from Westminster.
When I was 18 there was an election. The first one with televised debates. Clegg mania hit. I remember how excited and engaged me and my friends were (and how cool) – we thought we might be able to contribute to real change. Maybe it wouldn’t be a two party race after all. So I voted Lib Dem. And then the coalition happened. I was glued to the tv that whole day, trying to work out who was going to team up with who. No one expected Clegg to get into bed with Cameron, but he did. That was such a reality check for me. I know how cynical it is, but that experience has made me a labour voter for life, because I genuinely don’t believe that anyone else stands a chance of defeating the Tories. Right now I don’t think Labour stand a chance, but that’s a separate issue.
The city I live in was up for grabs at the last election – it had been a lib dem safe seat, but the existing MP was retiring so it would be a new lib dem, and also see above for what they had done last time round. The seat went to a conservative, and I have a feeling it will easily stay his this time round. So, in that sense voting feels a bit pointless. My voice won’t make an impact at a local level, and in turn that will make it moot at a national one. Our voting system is broken in a way that makes me so crazy angry I can’t really articulate it. It’s unfair, it’s demoralising, and this is why we get apathetic, disenfranchised people who don’t go out to vote. Complain about low voter turn out all you like (and it IS a problem, it DOES make a difference to the outcome, I’m not saying it doesn’t) but I bet if we had a different, fairer voting system *cough* proportional representation *cough* then voter turnout would be higher. I would consider myself pretty politically engaged, and passionate about the impact things like this have on the future of our country, so if I’m tempted to not vote because my voice won’t be heard then imagine how someone who isn’t interested in politics feels.
The main reason I don’t want to vote is I actively don’t want either of the major party leaders in charge of this country. I don’t like May, and I don’t like Corbyn. I also don’t like Farron but let’s be realistic about this (I would bet that most people don’t even know who he is). I have to chose one (and by that I mean Corbyn – I am a young woman who works in the arts, of course I’m going to vote labour) but I would be genuinely disappointed to have either be the person that is going to lead us through the next 5 years of Brexit, and Trump, and probably the apocalypse. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling that way. I want to be able to vote for a party I believe in, with a leader I am proud of, rather than a shambling mess with a stubborn jackass at the helm. Right now – I would rather Ed Miliband. I think he would stand a better chance.
I have no hope at all that labour will win. Sometimes I think about clinging to the fact May is a woman and that’s good for feminism right? But it doesn’t make me feel any better. The next 7 weeks are going to be bleak, and frustrating, and depress me. I’m going to want to both talk about it constantly and not think about it at all. I will try to consume every piece of satire I can get my hands on.
And who knows. Maybe Trump will have blown us all up before we even get to the polling stations.