You’ll have noticed a general election was called last week. As I write the people of Britain are gripped by election fever. “Election”, they say. “Let’s all election”. Every adult in the country is rushing to register to vote, every registered voter is anxiously awaiting their chance to cross a box or hang a chad, and every child is waiting to come of age so they too can do the thing what I just said about.
Actually, given the hundreds of years of battling it took to get the vote and the small detail of it actually mattering who runs the country, turnout is generally pretty low: 61% in 2005, 59% in 2001. Among people aged 18-25 MORI estimates turnout at 37% and 39%. That puts the piss and poor in piss poor. We’ll not go into the reasons behind low turnout. Seems safe to assume they include apathy, disinterest, disconnect, disillusionment and the suspicion that all politicians are gimp mask-wearing slush funders.
The point is despite our cynicism there’s an election knocking about and we have to do something. Voting is yer basic activist activity. We can elect a bunch of people who want to drill every last bit of oil and cut aid to the developing world or a bunch of people who want to throw more cash at sustainable energy and cut developing countries’ trade tariffs and debt repayments. Politicians won’t solve every problem by themselves and no doubt they’ll find a couple new ones but while we’re fixing the world we may as well delegate some of the work to them.
The trick here is to know what we’re talking about, learning about parties’ policies and histories to better choose between Labour, Conservatives, the yellow one or the others. We’ll start on the official websites here, here and here, reading but not necessarily believing their manifestoes. Then we’ll check our constituency results from last time to see if a bit of tactical voting’s called for to keep a party out rather than get a party in. We’ll follow the campaigns somewhere like here or here to keep up to date and we’ll watch the debates on TV scheduled for 15, 22 and 29 April. I know which side I’m taking on them already: I’m pro-TV.
Right, we’re ready. Let’s attend to the matter of electing a government. Then get back to recycling, interpretive dance and worm poop.