Why It’s Important to Vote
As part of our ‘Have Your Say’ campaign in the countdown to the General and Local Elections on Thursday 7th May 2015, we asked the people we support why they think it’s important to vote. The winner was James from Manchester, who will receive a £50 prize. You can read his statement below:
Politics and government affect everyone. Issues relevant to you might be social care, housing, spending on mental health, the minimum wage, changes to benefits and schemes to create jobs. The smaller, more radical parties are also campaigning for an end to austerity’, which means heavy cuts to spending because Britain has a lot of debt. You may also have views on whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union, whether membership is good or bad for Britain and whether there should be a referendum on this issue. You may agree or disagree that we should spend money on our Trident nuclear defence. Does Britain need nuclear weapons? All of these are being debated now as the politicians carry out their election campaigns, setting out their promises if they are elected to government. Ultimately, if you don’t vote then you don’t have a say on issues that affect everyone and issues that affect you.
There are historical reasons for voting as well as these, which are worth thinking about. Firstly the fact that every adult man and woman in Britain can vote did not just appear out of nowhere. It was a result of a long and sometimes dangerous struggle by the Chartist Movement in the Nineteenth Century when voting was restricted first to the rich, and then under the Great Reform Act in the 1830s extended to a larger electorate with a property qualification (you have to own a certain amount of property in order to vote), and then finally to all men. The Suffragettes, women who fought for women’s right to vote, were active in the early Twentieth Century and many were sent to prison and went on hunger strike. Now we have universal suffrage which means every adult has the right to vote. It took over a hundred years of determined struggle to bring this about.
Another historical reason to vote is that many of our grandfathers fought for Britain to remain a free country and to defeat totalitarianism. Even during the war, when the bombs were falling and men were dying on distant battlefields, Britain remained a democracy. At the end of the war a large majority of the British people elected a Labour government which brought in the National Health Service. That legacy is still alive today and all political parties have to say they want to maintain and improve the NHS.
Who you vote for is your free choice and you don’t have to tell anyone. You might like to think about what is important to you and those you care about. You might like to think about the future of Britain in the world.
As we received so many great entries to our contest, we also chose two runners up, who will each receive prizes of £20.
Paul from Bury said:
I think it is important to vote because we need to save our NHS and our Social Services. We need to stand up for ourselves as it is important that we are looked after properly. We need to vote to change things for the better for all of us.
Robert from London added:
I want to participate to elect a government that cares for people.
For more information about our ‘Have Your Say’ campaign, click here.