Well, today is the day, #GE2015. I have a lot of strong, mixed feelings about it all, and I suppose that’s why I’m writing this. I’m not pretending to be some super clued up political expert, I will be honest and say a lot of the issues being thrown around at the moment cause me total confusion, and that’s after I’ve read up about them, and before I’ve tried to get my head around what a hung parliament means. I’ve kind of settled it in my head as one of the things that I will never fully understand, somewhat like my grasp of trigonometry and how the tax allowance works. However, I have some clear views on today, and if you can bear to listen to me for a minute, I will attempt to articulate them. If not, don’t worry, I don’t blame you!
I wouldn’t say I am an idealist when it comes to politics, but in the last few weeks, I have seen way to much cynicism, and I think that’s pretty scary. On Facebook, and blogs and Twitter, I’ve come across so many people angrily branding all politicians to be liars, thieves and scum, and while I agree that a lot of them seem to be morally questionable in some way, I honestly think taking this viewpoint is completely self-defeating. If you believe that every single politician is useless and/or rotten to the core, why would you bother voting or fighting for change? And if you don’t vote and fight for change, how is change ever going to come? Like I said, I’m not an idealist; I know that whoever comes into power in the next few days is going to have a hard job keeping all the promises they’ve made during their campaign. I also know that if there is a change in government, and someone wins who expresses care for the lower end of the working class scale, the problems the UK has now are going to take a long time to reverse and change for the better. But surely it’s worth fighting for someone to try? Constructive criticism and holding our government to account is what democracy is all about, but spewing hate and hopelessness isn’t going to get anyone anywhere.
The second thing that has scared me is how quick people are to tar everyone with the same brush. Actually, it downright terrifies me. All immigrants are bad, all people who don’t work are lazy, all single mothers who claim benefits are scroungers. This probably isn’t what you think, but I’ve seen enough comments and statuses in the last few months that show an astonishingly high number of people do. Yes, there are problems with the UK immigration laws, and yes, the welfare system and NHS are abused. But how on earth has a self-serving government managed to convince so many people that the best way to fix this abuse is to scrap the things entirely? I’m from a particularly poor area of the South Wales valleys, and although I see the abuse of said welfare system and NHS, I know a huge number of people who entirely, and honestly, depend on them. Yet somehow, I have seen people, from this very same place, declaring that the NHS should be privatised and all benefits stopped, so people wont be so lazy in the future. How?? Just a quick glance at some independent figures, readily available online, will show you that most of the money being lost in our country is mainly down to huge companies dodging taxes they should rightfully pay. The NHS and the welfare system are amazing and wonderful things, they stand for the incredible belief that everyone should have the right to healthcare and a certain quality of life, regardless of their financial position. That’s amazing and we should fight for that with everything we have, regardless of its failings. It would be a lot easier to fix that than a society where people starve or remain ill because they cannot afford basic services. Also, for the record, every single person I know, who lives here but is not from the UK, is a hard-working, fully contributing member of society. While I agree a country needs to protect its own people and screen who it takes in, I hate the attitude that every foreigner is coming here for an easy ride. My partner is Polish and is the hardest working person I know, for the least amount of reward. He notices the attitude towards him is changing for the negative, and I fully believe it’s a direct result of certain political and media campaigns regarding immigration. I suppose what I’m saying is that founding your beliefs on misinformation, or even just partial information is dangerous and damaging. Making broad assumptions that everyone is the same can lead to direct pain and discomfort for people who do not deserve the stigma attached to them. Information is easily available if you look for it, and is vital to your vote. While I fully respect every person’s right to their own opinion, just make sure you are informed and know the potential consequences of how you vote before you do it.
I suppose I just did what I thought I wouldn’t do, and go off on a political rant. I am sorry. If you’re still reading, well done! Above is my own opinion, and if you disagree with me, I respect your right to. I just hope you respect mine. And after saying/ranting all of the above, I think what I feel today, above everything, is grateful. I am truly grateful that I live in a democratic country, where I can write and talk about and air my views publicly. I don’t have to live under the fear that what I believe or how I vote this evening is going to cause me oppression or persecution. I am a born again Christian, and support several charities that work with the persecuted church in other countries. As my knowledge of the atrocities that take place around the world grows, so does my appreciation for this country’s system. Flawed as it is, at least I have the right to my own voice. You only have to watch a few minutes of the news to see that in so many places across the world, minorities and majorities alike are being stamped on and trampled, crushed up in the most horrific ways, just to stop them doing what we do every single election, every single day, every single blog post or Facebook status. A hundred years ago, women died in excruciating ways so I can sit here today, read party manifestos and make up my own mind who I want to put a tick next to on the ballot paper. Millions of soldiers died in the time since then so I could maintain that right. I never, ever want to forget that or take it for granted. In an election, it’s so easy to get caught up in the ranting, and the negative aspects, focusing on the problems we have, and we kind of forget the problems we do not have. I know I have been guilty of that. So I’m reminding myself that I’m pretty privileged to live in this place, and I’m going to be thankful when I walk into the polling booth later. Whoever wins, I hope they remember that too!