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Not voting is not an option

In a twist that no one saw coming, the United Kingdom has leaped off the cliff edge of stagnation and plunged towards the ground, screaming something about a ditch. We are in the throes of a general election and as such, the campaigning has begun. Not just from the political parties but from the EUSA itself – we’ve all seen the banners plastered over main campus telling us to ‘Give a ****’, to register to vote. When they’re not busy trying to take Tennants away from us, they do have the capacity to make a valid point. We must all register to vote.

The UK is at a critical juncture; what happens now will decide the next 50 years of British politics, of our relationship with the rest of the world. Will Brexit ever reach a conclusion? Will the Labour party finally get its act together and begin providing an effective opposition? Will the Lib Dems break with tradition and keep a promise? Will Westminster realise that the devolved government must be involved in its decisions, lest they take matters into their own hands? Regardless of anyone’s personal thoughts on these matters, this is our chance to make our voices heard. There is no excuse not to vote. Whether you vote for a party or an independent, whether you spoil your ballot or walk in unsure of who will receive your support – we all have a duty to vote.

It is true that not everyone has the time or ability to go to the polling station. During the recent European elections, in my own constituency, a polling station was closed and the people living in that ward were not notified. As a result, the turnout dropped significantly. There are, however, other ways to vote. Postal and proxy votes are far safer than most people realise, in fact they are entirely safe and there is no reason why anyone should be concerned about using them. 

It is no secret that the current government is trying to employ voter suppression tactics. A motion was defeated in Parliament a few weeks ago which tried to ensure that only those with a valid form of identification could vote – this seems to be a reasonable policy until we consider that this could prevent over 3.5 million people who have a legitimate, legal right to vote from casting their ballot. This is not a demographic likely to vote with the current government, so it is in Mr Johnson’s own self-interest to prevent people from making their voices heard. Unless the government is willing to finance and supply people with such identification – which it isn’t – then this is nothing more than a brazen attempt to ignore an already marginalised group.

If you don’t vote, if you don’t make your voice heard, if you don’t respect this hard won right then you don’t get to complain when things inevitably get worse. You don’t get to complain about who is in charge. You don’t get to be upset or frustrated or annoyed. This is our chance to influence the future. This is our chance to save our communities from austerity, from right wing extremism, from a crude and callous drug policy, from an NHS which will be sold off bit by bit by bit. Whether you’re in Scotland, Wales, England or Northern Ireland. Abstaining will not be taken as a criticism of Westminster policies, but rather as a vigorous show of support for the status quo. If you don’t vote, then shame on you.

 

Image: secretlondon123 via Flickr

By Adam Losekoot

Senior Opinion Editor, sexy bastard and all round stand up guy

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