General Election: The good, the bad and the downright ugly

IN CASE you’ve been living under a rock since Christmas (or just Borth), last Thursday saw the General Election take place. The reasonably unexpected result has produced all manner of reactions amongst voters: from jubilation, to surprise to downright hostility. I, like many other people, choose not to talk about personal politics most of the time. For starters, it’s nobody else’s business who I voted for or why I chose to vote in that particular way. For the record, I voted here in Ceredigion so it’s safe to assume that I didn’t vote for either of the main two parties.  It will take weeks, if not months, for the reality of Thursday’s outcome to sink in, especially within the Labour Party, who have got big decisions to make. In the meantime though, this is what I have learnt/discovered over the last few days.

Election1. Yes, first-past-the-post (FPTP) is really really crap, and there should be a more proportionate voting method, but it isn’t in the interests of either of the main parties to change the system. Our system is crap, but, at the same time, we should be celebrating the fact that anybody 18+ has the right to vote regardless of their gender, sexuality or ethnicity. It is ridiculous that, in the 21st Century, there are people across the world still fighting for those rights. On a personal level I believe that not voting is an entirely counterproductive exercise. After all, the majority win because they have a voice. The voiceless need to be given a voice. However, at the same time, to demonise somebody because they have chosen not to vote is both wrong and insulting to that person. If asked, a significant number of those who didn’t vote will probably give a reasonably informed answer, probably that they don’t agree with the system. Arguably, the only way to change a system is to be part of that system in the first place, but don’t demonise somebody for expressing an opinion. Similarly, everyone is entitled to disagree with how others have voted. However, telling people – “You voted Tory? You heartless twat, what’s wrong with you?” is not exactly the best way of winning over swing voters in the marginal seats that are needed if Labour has any chance in 2020.

2. We live in a democracy where we have a right to voice our opinions and articulate this through protest. By all means, go out onto the streets and protest, but have the courage and conviction to do so. Go out and protest because you believe a policy is bad and has an adverse impact on you. Be proud that you are fighting for something and show your face. Don’t hide behind a balaclava or cause pointless vandalism – it’s just unnecessary. Don’t go out with the intention of deliberately causing vandalism and destruction – think about your actions. Your mess will most likely be cleaned up by the relevant council. A council that has, more than likely, been hit with massive budget cuts, meaning that it is unable to distribute money to areas that need it most. I think most of us would agree that we would rather see that money going towards, for example, health and social care, rather than having to clean up needless vandalism.

Be angry, but use that anger wisely and productively.