It started in 2001 when I was in my final year in sixth form and my friends were old enough to vote for the first time. Having grown up in a family where everyone voted, it was strange for me that many of my friends weren’t going to participate. I asked them why and their reasons were various. They didn’t feel they knew enough about it, they didn’t feel it affected them, they didn’t think their vote would make a difference.
And then it hit me. I’d barely seen an election leaflet. I definitely hadn’t seen any election activity. I had no idea who the local candidates were. Any why? Because my friends and I lived in one of the safest seats in the country. No one cared about whether or how we voted, or what we thought, because it simply didn’t matter.
By the time of the last general election, I’d moved to a new area. But I still couldn’t get my voice heard. True the contest was closer, but between two parties I didn’t particularly like. I ended up voting tactically rather than for the party I really supported.
And it’s not just me (and my friends). The majority of people in the UK don’t get their views heard at election time.
That’s not just unfair; it means that thousands, indeed millions of people across the UK can be ignored. Policies don’t have to reflect your concerns and no one faces the consequences if they don’t (except you). In Camden, if you live in Holborn and St Pancras and aren’t a Labour voter, you can be ignored. If you live in Hampstead and Kilburn you might well have voted tactically in the last general election as you tried to second guess who would win. And if you’re lucky enough to have your views heard now, what happens if you move? And what about everyone else?
This isn’t a sensible way to run politics or indeed the country.
If you choose AV, everyone (including you) will be able to vote for who they really believe in. And more ordinary people will have their voices heard. Please vote ‘Yes!’ on May 5th.