Whenever there is a national, international or local vote I feel it's my duty to vote. My grandmother was a suffragette and their actions won the right for today's British women to vote. (She didn't go to jail because she had small children and the suffragettes therefore wouldn't allow her to be put in the front line.). Universal suffrage represents one of the main struggles of the C20 - and it's still going on today.
So even if you think your vote makes no difference, the very fact of voting in the UK supports the disadvantaged elsewhere.
I take the act of voting seriously and dress up for the occasion - see my voting suit above. The suit came about because it was unclear (and still is) whether a voter has to show their face. In fact every time I have voted as a bear I have been asked to remove my head and have done so.
This year I can't vote in person so I applied for a postal vote. I have found the process archaic and arcane. I am sure that many voters don't use a postal vote because of the hassle.
- Step 1. find out how to do it.
- Step 2 send a postal request for a voting form. This cost me a first class stamp. It seems absurd. Why can we not ask for a form online? Anyway I sent the form off and heard nothing. I tweeted my MP (Julian Huppert) and he agreed that I should have heard. Anyway I rang up this Monday and they said forms had been sent out last Friday. Heard nothing. Finally the forms arrived on Wednesday. So it's taken 3 (or 4) working days for the forms to travel 2 miles (3 km). This is absurd. Relying on the Royal Mail to provide "next day" delivery for first-class local post seems broken.
- step 3. I have filled the forms in, for the National and Local elections. How did I vote? [see below]. I then dressed up to vote tday 2015-05-01, went to my local post-box, and put the envelope in it. It's got 4 working days to get to the Guildhall (3 km distant). I will never know if it reached it in time. It's possible I may be disenfranchised by slow postage.
So the system must be changed. It should be possible to get a voting form instantaneously. I am not arguing for electronic voting, but it should be possible to know that your vote has arrived and will go into the counting process.
So who did I vote for?
The party system is so broken in UK that it's impossible to vote for a party. I used to know what Labour, Conservative and Liberal stood for. Now I don't. Blair betrayed the system for ever - with the implied slogan "Trust me, I know what's best". The current leaders are pathetic. They are currently trying to find small gaps in the opponent's policies and add sweeties for the electorate. "No new income tax for 5 years". If that was so important it should have been in the manifesto. They are simply gibbering and most people who think about the issues have long ago given up. Clegg has destroyed the Lib-Dems - left them with no solid bedrocks.
So I don't vote for parties. I vote for people. That's on the basis that a responsible representative will recognize when policy is so far adrift that it has to be challenged. (Yes, you have spotted that I am an idealist). It makes it very difficult in Europe because you can only vote for parties.
Politics is carried out 365 days a year. Many issues are not party-political but require an independent, committed analysis and also hard work. There is good politics in the UK, In Europe, and in US (I don't have first hand knowledge of most countries). There is also awful politics in all of them, and it's that that I am fighting.
So you will have to guess who I voted for.