"Houses of Parliment, this is Davina, you are live on channel 4, please do not swear. The polls are closed, the votes have been counted & verified and I can now reveal that the new Prime Minister is..."
It's over. Or is it? The actual election itself is, but really, the election is only ever the beginning. If you follow me on Twitter, you'll probably have seen that I've tweeted more than a thousand times since last Thursday, so it's no surprise that I have a lot to say on politics at the moment. My Dream Manifesto post discussed what I'd love to see happen in our country, but as I woke on Friday morning to the sombreness of realising that the Conservatives would rule our nation for another half a decade, I soon realised that the chances of any of these happening was significantly lowered. I didn't say in that post, but as you might have been able to guess, I voted Labour and with 70 constituencies still to declare when I woke up at 7am on Friday morning and 63 seats between the two big dogs, there was still a little glimmer of hope inside of me that thought maybe, just maybe, against all odds, Labour could pull it out of the bag at the last gasp and emerge victorious. Needless to say, that didn't happen.
There's a few thoughts I want to share regarding recent political events, I hope y'all don't mind!
Not knowing enough to know who to vote for
If you believe in a parties policies, vote for them.
If you don't believe in any parties policies, don't vote for them.
If you don't know enough about any parties policies, don't use that as an excuse not to vote all. There are literally hundreds of thousands of sources of information out there, the vast majority of which are free. Educate yourself and if, once you've done some research, you can't decide who you want to represent you, think of those less fortunate that yourself, who would be best to represent them and fight for their rights? Don't waste your vote because you couldn't be bothered to do a quick Google search or tune into Question Time because who rules the country affects the lives of every citizen, including you.
Our Voting System
Quite frankly, it's absolutely screwed. For anyone who doesn't know, our system is basically a nationalised version of the school council. At school, someone from every class (of roughly the same number of pupils) is elected by people in their class and each classes representative joins together to work towards what is best for the school as a whole. In politics, someone from each constituency (of roughly the same number of residents of voting age) is elected by the people of their constituency and each constituencies representative joins together to work towards what is best for the nation as a whole. Not to be patronising, I just know that people outwith the UK don't always get it.
However, winning the seat for your constituency is a first past the post system. If one candidate received 10,000 votes and another received 10,001 votes, the later gets the seat. 'Yes, of course, they most people wanted them, so that's fair'. Well actually no it's not. That's just the two main contenders, what about the smaller underdogs, who received a further 10,000 votes collectively. The party with 10,001 votes gets the seat despite double the amount of people voting against them. Now, do you see just how unfair that really is?
We need to move towards a system of proportional representation. While our country is equally represented in terms of geography (well, sort of, aside from the fact that a candidate doesn't even need to live in the same country as their constituency), we need a more reflective way of representing who people want in government compared to the rest of the country and not just compared to the rest of their constituency.
You may think I'm being dramatic (I'd imagine more so if you voted Tories) but when you think that the SNP for less votes than UKIP, yet won 56 seats compared to UKIP's 1 seat, you start to see the problem. (Of course I'd rather SNP than UKIP, but that's beside the point of this example). Similarly, The Green Party received approximately 1 million votes across the UK, and got 1 seat in parliament, which is roughly 1 seat per million votes. The Tories however, got approx. 32 million votes and got more than 300 seats in parliament., roughly 10 seats per million votes. Now try and tell me that our system isn't in need of a revamp!
As someone living in Scotland, talk of tactical voting has been everywhere for the past few days. Scotland wanted more power in Westminster, which a number is people feel threatened by - why should Scotland get a say in English matters yet we don't get a say in theirs? (Source) However, when David Cameron said the Conservatives wouldn't form a coalition government with the SNP and Ed Milliband said Labour would, these people who feel threatened by the idea that Scotland might get its voice heard amongst the big dogs of British politics, and decided to vote Tories to keep the SNP out of Westminster. Whether it's true or not, it's certainly a common thought. (Source)
Like many young people, I'm gutted and quite scared for the future of our country, both for selfish reasons and for people less fortunate than me. However, I know by now that simply sulking and moaning about an injustice won't change anything, I can post bitter tweets all I want but they're the government and will be for the next 5 years. Instead I thought I'd get proactive and share some inspiration for those who feel in the same, let-down and dreading position as I do.
Stay as informed as possible
If you feel disappointed with the outcome of the election, there's a likelihood you'll loose interest in politics, even if temporarily. It might seem pointless, but this is the time where we need to keep our eyes and ears open and know what it going on in our country. Reading the newspapers, watching the news and listening to the radio is great, but for real, authentic opinions and information, the Internet is your friend. Listen, talk, debate and share, you can never be too informed about who is ruling your country and don't be shushed just because the election is over.
Strength in Numbers
Getting your voice heard as an individual is hard, but getting your voice heard as part of a group is easier. Chances are, the injustices you feel most passionately about will have organisations, charities and support groups trying to drive a change even if the government aren't. For instance, our new leaders want to cut mental health funding, yet organisations like Together & BACP provide support and funding for those in need of treatment but who may struggle to afford it. Similarly, family welfare is under threat, so why not join an organisation like Turn2Us who help single parents in need?
Exercise your democratic rights
I know when feeling defeated, it's hard to remember that we still do live in a democratic society, but we do, and compared to many countries all over the world, we fortunately live in a country that allows its citizens to question authority. We have the right to protest, to petition, to strike, to join trade unions, to contact your MP, regardless of their political party, and to lobby parliament. We have these rights with the understanding that they will be used and taken seriously so make the most of them.
As much as I believe that voting should be compulsory in a democratic society or at the very least that if you don't use your vote, you should have your right to vote revoked, chances are neither of these will ever happen. It's all very well and good to be disheartened by the outcome of a democratic decision, but if you've played no part in that how that decision came to be, you have no right to complain. You might not think your one tiny little vote will make any difference, but when hundreds of thousands of people think that way, the future of who runs out country changes dramatically. You have no excuse.
What are your thoughts on the outcome? Let's chat!