Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Who are you voting for? #generalelection2015

The general election is tomorrow. TOMORROW. Finally, at last, after all the chat and debates and claims and counter-claims, we all get the hard-won opportunity to put a cross next to the party of our choice. The closer we get, the less certain I am about who to vote for! I've been to local hustings, watched the TV debates, had a look at policy. And usually I am clearer on who NOT to vote for, leaving me with picking the least worst option...

Clearly female representation is a big thing for me. There is huge momentum and excitement around women in politics at the moment. Natalie Bennett (Greens), Nicola Sturgeon (SNP) and Leanne Wood (Plaid Cymru) seem to offer common sense, compassion, and a cooperative style of politics that we haven't yet seen in British politics. Feminist celebrities including Sandi Toksvig have set up the Women's Equality Party, with the focus on equality for everyone. The 50:50 Parliament campaign is demanding equal representation for women in Parliament.

We know women are disproportionately affected by cuts because we earn less and are more reliant on public services. Cuts to maternity services, children's centres, child benefit and welfare, prohibitive childcare costs, rising rents and zero hour contracts negatively impact on the health, wellbeing and quality of life of women and families.  So, what kind of issues might be at the forefront of our voting decisions?

The NHS
Education
Housing
The economy and cuts
Child benefit
Maternity and paternity rights
Childcare costs
Employment legislation
The bedroom tax
Disability allowance

And of course, if you are interested in the future of our society, energy, environment and Trident might be on your mind. It is hard to pin down politicians on their views but if you want to compare party policies in areas that are important to you, take the survey at Vote for Policies.

In my constituency, I am faced with five white male candidates across the political spectrum, including UKIP, Conservative, Liberal Democrat, Labour, Green and Socialist. Right now, I need to decide whether to vote tactically to remove a Tory MP incumbent for 28 years, vote on personality or vote on national policy. I also need to think about how we can improve the diversity of our candidates next time round!

To be honest, all the petty fighting and scaremongering splashed across the TV and radio has put me off voting for one of the main three parties entirely. They have become ridiculous in their attacks on each other, their refusal to admit any need to collaborate or co-operate and their promises and guarantees have begun to sound hollow.

For this reason, I might well vote Green Party tomorrow. While I am under no illusions about my Green candidate being successful, I believe my vote will not be wasted for the following reasons:

  1. The Greens offer a positive view of society which matches my own values and aspirations, including gender equality, social justice, supporting public services and combatting climate change (Green Policy). While the Greens won't run government, their input would be positive on the issues I believe are important.
  2. The rise in votes for smaller parties demonstrates the need for voting reform, preferably proportional respresentation in my view. At the very least it means that the era of the two horse race is over, according to the Wall Street Journal.
  3. Votes count in terms of party funding so even if your party of choice doesn't win this time, your vote will help their future campaigns. See the Electoral Commission for information on public funding of political parties.

Whatever choice you are faced with in your constituency, your vote does count. Good luck with making your decision! 

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