For those of us living in the UK …

For those of us living in the UK, today is our chance to vote for those who will represent us in the UK government over the next few years. Whichever party that is will have a very steep hill to climb, given the consequences of Brexit and the way in which the Tories have created what one commentator has called a “chumocracy” and have effectively asset-stripped the country, presumably on the basis of Margaret Thatcher’s belief that there is “no such thing as society”. (Only, it would appear from the policies of the last 14 years, rule by wealthy individuals and their friends animated by a sense of self-entitlement and greed).

Our democracy is very far from perfect. However, you only have to look at the USA, where a former president who attempted to deny his defeat by force has just effectively been given the power to make himself an absolute dictator (that is, to be placed above the law) should he win the elections there, to see that it could be a lot worse here. I wouldn’t presume to suggest how, as a UK citizen, you should vote. That is absolutely your choice on the basis of your convictions, circumstances, and what you feel is best for the country. Like a great many people, I find myself torn between voting from personal conviction – which would be to vote for the Green candidate (who, I know, has no chance of winning in the constituency where we live) – and voting for the hard-working and very decent Labour candidate who has served our constituency well for many years. In the end I will take the pragmatic option and vote Labour. If he is re-elected I will, however, continue to press him on Green and other issues.

The point of all this is, however, to ask any of you who think voting is a waste of time to please do so regardless. If we want a better, more representational, democracy – one in which, for example, we have proportional representation and greater devolved powers to regional and local communities – then we have to accept that it’s the duty of citizens to vote. If nothing else, it puts us in the position to be able to say: “I voted for you, now I expect you to listen to my concerns”.