General Election 2017: An 11th-hour plea to vote

Caveat: The following has been written last-minute and as such is low on external sources and high on anecdotal evidence (though please don’t discount the latter, as the people I spoke to were speaking from their own experience). So, take it at face value or with a pinch of salt, but please don’t dismiss it out of hand – and if you really think I’ve got something wrong, please comment and I’ll address it. Thank you.

 

 

I have never been one for tactical voting. You should always vote for your local candidate, not the party or its leader. That’s how it’s supposed to work. Give your support to the person in your local area who best represents you and who you think will be most likely to get done the things that you think need doing. Tactical voting as a concept has always left a bad taste – if you vote tactically, you aren’t doing it right. In one of many recent heated debates with friends, one said that she couldn’t bring herself to vote tactically as it would mean not supporting the person she saw as her best local candidate. Normally, I would be agreeing wholeheartedly with her approach.

 

Sadly, for this general election, I am compelled to act against everything I’ve ever said, and vote tactically in a bid to prevent the Tories from doing further damage to the country I call home. It has been suggested that I’m not voting with my heart by doing this, and up until last night I would have to admit this was true. But when I thought about why I was intending to vote – not to get one particular candidate in, but to oust another because of which party they represent – I realised that my motivation was to defend issues close to me. Tomorrow, 8th June, I will be voting with my heart.

 

Under a Tory government, vital public services have been compromised. Whole sectors have been damaged, and good, worthy careers have been trashed. Funding for education continues to be cut, putting pressure on teachers and students alike. I was shocked to learn that my old high school (an old-fashioned grammar of the kind so beloved by the current PM) is so strapped for cash that it can no longer offer certain subjects at A-level. Even asking the parents for donations couldn’t patch the shortfall sufficiently – could this be because earnings have effectively decreased over the last few years thanks to pay freezes and higher living costs? Could it be that not every grammar school kid has rich parents after all? I know I didn’t. But I digress. This, of course, is just one school amongst thousands.

 

We need our schools to be well funded. We trust these institutions to educate our children and turn out the next generation of thinking, functioning young adults who can support themselves and their society. Childhood is the easiest time to learn, and the Tories are endangering the UK’s future by cutting educational funding. Educated people tend to be higher earners and therefore pay more tax, which pays for public services such as health and social care. With our aging population, we need to be investing in our youth if for no other reason than to be able to afford to pay for our elderly.

 

Which brings me to my next bugbear. The NHS has been hit by both funding cuts and privatisation, as various services are farmed out to inefficient private sector companies whose raison d’être is shareholder profit, not public healthcare. The NHS, never the most efficient admittedly, but more importantly never a profit-making enterprise, has borne the brunt of the public’s frustration with long waiting-lists and overstretched services, when half* the time these services are being delivered by private companies. Under the Tories, the NHS has become a scapegoat for private sector failings, blamed for mistakes even as the money it could be using to fix them is withdrawn. We cannot allow it to be further strained until the only seemingly ‘logical’ outcome is total privatisation of healthcare services and consequential individual health insurance for all. Many people can’t afford that. Take a look at America if you want to see how much worse off we’d be without a national health service. The NHS keeps our operations and medications cheap by comparison without compromising on quality. It attracts staff from all over the world. We need to look after it.

 

[*Not literally 50%. Turn of phrase.]

 

Most of us will be old someday. Most of us, at some point, will need the State to pick us up when we have fallen, when we are in need due to misfortune or illness. At its most selfish, we pay into a system when we can, so that there is support for us when we can’t. Put less selfishly, we pay in to help others because it’s the decent thing to do. Society as a whole functions better when we look after each other. Cuts made to social care by the current government, along with chronically ill people being called upon time and again to prove their legitimate need for assistance, show that the Tory vision for the UK is only applicable to those who are able to live independently. This ignores a significant proportion of the population. Our government is supposed to work for all of us.

 

Education and the NHS are just two issues that are close to my heart; two reasons why I don’t want the Tories to continue to be in power. They have shown themselves to be incompetent (increasing the national debt as a percentage of GDP through austerity measures), callous (work and pensions, transport, and local government have been the most heavily cut areas since 2010) and short-sighted, preferring to maintain the UK as one of the largest arms dealers in the world whilst wilfully ignoring that this is a contributing factor to terrorism, and instead using recent attacks in the UK as an excuse to push forward with their plans to grossly restrict our use of the internet – and here I quote from the Tory manifesto: “Some people say that it is not for government to regulate when it comes to technology and the internet. We disagree.” If that isn’t a precursor to totalitarianism, I don’t know what is. Add to that their hard-on for a hard Brexit, lusting after the so-called glory days of Empire whilst seeking to cut us off from our neighbours, and George Orwell’s Airstrip One scenario seems perilously close.

 

I know this can be overwhelming; I know it seems that all the various party leaders do is insult each other. Perhaps you’re tired of it all and you just want to keep your head down and deal with your own shit – but we all have a responsibility, to ourselves and to each other, to have a say in what the UK does next. So please vote tomorrow. The current state of the UK economy and the knock-on effect on its citizens, plus the prospect of a hard Brexit under the leadership of an incompetent Tory government, should be enough to galvanise even the most weary individual. I strongly urge you to judge the Tories on their record (as they themselves have suggested you do) and decide whether or not you want them to continue in this manner – taking from those who have no more to give, risking our future, and cosying up to America’s racist granddad of a president rather than working with the rest of Europe. If you want change, please vote tactically to deprive your local Conservative MP of their seat. The UK can do better than this. We deserve it.

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