Thursday 8 June is the day that the people of the United Kingdom have the opportunity to shape the nature of their government for the next term. Whatever your ideology, the working of democracy must always be the greater right and the one that gives everybody the opportunity to put their beliefs to the test. Your vote therefore is of great importance. No one party or candidate can ever represent 100% of what you desire, that would be impossible, but a party or candidate can represent some of what you want.
So when we blame the politicians for the state of our affairs, we bear the greater responsibility for continually voting them in or for not voting for an alternative. I understand that it is human nature to be tribal and not break away from tradition. There is comfort in sticking with the same party or policy and not continually challenging their relevance in an ever-changing society.
I live in the constituency of West Tyrone where we have seven candidates, all seeking for my vote, all saying that they are the best person to be my MP. So how do I decide on who to give my one and only vote to.
This election is for the Member of Westminster Parliament, that is the debating chamber and where my MP’s vote will be registered on any given issue. This is important because I can then see how effective my MP is and have a record of how they voted on the various issues that affect my daily life. There is therefore no ideology that is greater than the democracy of a MP taking their seat in the parliament that they have been elected to. I cannot give my vote to a candidate who promises not to engage with democracy.
I need to know that the candidate that I vote for can show transparency of funding for their campaign, otherwise the principles or policies that they put forward are just there as sold to the highest bidder. That is not a democracy of equals but the return of slavery restyled by the wealthy supposedly for the benefit of the poor.
On the two basic tenants of democracy listed above, you may be surprised to learn that five of my seven candidates don’t meet the mark. Of the two that remain, the candidate running for CISTA, a signal issue organisation, offers no discerning policies on any other issues that affect my day-to-day living. I find it difficult therefore to take them seriously as a candidate that I can vote for.
That leaves me with just a choice of one, the candidate representing the green party. I mentioned at the start of my blog that no one candidate or party can represent 100% of your beliefs and certainly the Green party doesn’t do that for me. I have misgivings about some of their policies and indeed their candidate for West Tyrone.
What is the value of my vote then?
If I want to shape and influence the next parliament with a MP that will represent their constituency in debates and votes, be transparent and not ruled by dark money and have policies on all issues, then the candidate for the Green party in West Tyrone is the only one that I can vote for. Indeed as I look across all the constituencies in Northern Ireland, the Green party may be the only legitimate party that many can cast a vote for.
Can I plead with you not to remain in a comfort zone that will suffocate you but to think and vote for political integrity and transparency in this election, if only to force all parties down that route for the next one.
That’s the value of my vote.