Monday, 11 May 2015

General Election 2015 - My Closing Thoughts & What To Do Now

"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!

Tactical Voting

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!

Monday, 4 May 2015

My Dream Manifesto

Unless you've been living under a rock, or perhaps even if you have been, you'll know we're into the home run of the general election. A few more sleeps and its polling day. I've had a keen interest in politics since my mid teens and after the Scottish independence referendum last September (read my post on that here), political debate amongst people of my generation is, much to my delight, at an all-time high. I've seen a few fellow bloggers write about the election and I knew I wanted to get my opinions out there, but I didn't want to just do a 'who I'm voting for' post because quite frankly, it's not that simple. My political views are mostly left wing but party policies are rarely that black and white and there are elements of more than ones' manifesto which I'd love to see become a reality. 

Having finished university debt-free and with no student loan, the issue of education of one I don't necessarily feel I can comment fairly on. I should say, I worked my ass off throughout uni and while I lived at home, paid my own way through. I had my university fee's paid for (as is general practice in Scotland) and almost definitely wouldn't have been able to afford to go and get my degree if I had to pay up to 9k per year as is the case in come parts of England. That being said, I have been graduated nearly two years now and am still on the hunt for a graduate job. As more people go to university in Scotland than the rest of the UK, graduate jobs are much harder to find here and job markets are overly competitive. I hate to say it, but I don't believe that further education is a right that everyone should have. I encourage anyone who thinks further education is the right path for them to pursue it, but I don't think that is the message that schools in Scotland promote, it's almost an 'Awk well, it's free anyway, might as well give it a go!' mindset which really angers me. Plus, had I decided NOT to go to university (which often I wish I did...) would I have gotten that 36k into my bank account to pursue other goals, perhaps start a business or travel the work doing charity work? Why should your dreams only be funded by the government if they involve further education? Because further education generally leads to higher paid jobs which means the government gets more back in tax? Bingo! Enter - Labour's Future Fund, for young people who don't wish to pursue further education. If students receive government aid, non-students deserve to too.

The privatisation of the NHS

It would be fair to say that we have one of, if not the, best health service in the world and compared to other developed countries whereby people die because they can't afford healthcare, we really are striding ahead in terms of an inclusive healthcare system which, by and large, does work. It seems easy for people outwith the UK to say that even with the cuts which the NHS are experiencing, the UK is still in a better position than its counterparts which operate an entirely private healthcare system.  However, these other countries have always had their system, therefore live in a society which is used to it and have million pound health insurance industries which people consider as important a policy to have as a mortgage or a pension. In the UK though, we are already established, and for the most part, working fairly well under the NHS free at the point of access system. We can adapt to some changes, but to entirely change a system from public to private would require more public money than we could even imagine, and would be next to impossible without putting the entire nation on 'pause' for what would probably take years. Yes, our system isn't perfect but providing cuts don't continue, I truly believe that it works.

A very significant point, close to my heart in the discussion of healthcare, is that of mental health. 1 in 4 adults will suffer from mental health issues at some stage in their life and these rates are growing, yet mental health care seems to be the sector that is experiencing the most cuts. Our society and media still stigmatize mental health patients as lazy and self-diagnosing exaggeraters , treating us vastly differently to sufferers of physical conditions. However, all is not lost as the Liberal Democrats want to give equal attention to physical and mental health, while investing 3.5 million in mental health services. Very much something I strongly support.

Welfare Cuts
I'm going to go ahead and say something that even I can admit is pretty controversial. I think, as per the Conservatives propositions, that welfare spending needs cut. When you compare the UK to similar nations economically and socially, our society is home to far too many people who rely on welfare and see it as a means of income as opposed to a means of support when they cannot provide their own income. Sure, there are genuinely disabled or otherwise unable to work people who really do need benefits and I will always be happy for my taxes to go to support them, but there are also a hell of a lot of people who exaggerate their circumstances in order to cheat the system. We need to make sure welfare is being spend on the people who really do need it and not the people who would just prefer sit waiting for a cheque instead of going out and earning one for themselves. Welfare is, or at least should be a last resort, a means to an end and nobody on welfare should ever be better of than whose in work. The entire welfare system needs reassessing, we need to really look at cutting it from those who don't need it and giving it to those, individuals or public sectors who really really do.

The disarming or relocating of Trident
A brief understanding of Trident for those who don't know as I know it's quite a sketchy subject - Trident is the UK's nuclear missile deterrent complex situated just outside Helensburgh, Scotland. As one of the richest nations on Earth, we have a lot to protect - finances, business, history and natural resources to name a few. While we may not see Trident as anywhere near as good a use of money as say the NHS or education, it's not as entirely useless as some are making it out to be, the Scottish Nationalist Party want to do is get rid of trident altogether. At the moment, Trident costs the UK approximately 2.3 billion per year, which may seem like a lot, but when you think that we otherwise pay more than 10 times the amount of this on defense alone per year, and that we paid 350 times that in 2009 to bail out banks in debt, it really doesn't seem that ludicrous in my opinion. 

Plus, it's easy for people further afield across Scotland and the rest of the UK to say 'Let's just get rid of it' but I live less than an hour away from it, I've passed by it hundreds of time over my life and unlike most, I have a real, tangible image of it which is not shown in the media. Even Googling it doesn't really bring any proper images of so it's very hard to form a proper picture in your mind. Firstly, it's HUGE. Not only does it take up approximately 5 square miles, but it also employs more than 500 people, as well as housing them and their families, providing education to their children and making available anything else they may need on site. It's more than a job, it's an entirely livelihood for thousands of people. The cost of paying these people off and rehabilitating them back into society would be extraordinary, as well as of course th£25 billion to disarm or relocate trident, as well as the 13 year estimated timeframe before it could even begin. I hope and pray that we never have to use our nuclear weapons, but I also think if we're already prepared with them, why pay to get rid of them, therefore putting us at risk?

Housing & The Rising Cost of Property

The housing market in the UK is really in dire straits at the moment. Population distribution, the centralisation of employment and ever increasing rates of immigration mean that the cost of renting, never mind buying it getting higher and higher and my generation are finding it harder and harder to afford to fly the nest. Heck, I'm 24, I live at home and so does my 25 year old sister. We both have university degrees, we both have full time jobs but neither of us can afford to move out. There are a number of different ways that the main parties aim to tackle this problem. The Tories want to launch new Help To Buy ISA's, The Liberal Democrat's want to increase house building to 300,000 per year and Labour want to put a cap on rent costs, but in regards to housing, it's the Green Party who get my support - they want to abolish the right to buy council housing and bring 350,000 empty properties back into use. Yes please!

The cost of living & minimum wage
The UK is the only developed nation which has both a cost-of-living wage (how much the government thinks is enough to live on) and then a separate, and lower, minimum wage, the rate that it is perfectly legal to pay people, which is generally accepted to be too low to live on. How this is even the case is absolutely baffling to me. Both Labour and SNP have pledged to raise the minimum wage to above the cost of living wage to £8 and £8.70 respectively. Hand in hand with the minimum wage debate goes the rise of zero hours contracts. Workers have jobs, yes, but never a guarantee of paid work. The Labour party want to get rid of zero hours contracts entirely or at the very least offer employees a permanent contract of employment after 3 months on a zero-hours contract while the Conversatives argue that they provide flexability for those who's lifestyles don't suit traditional working patterns - students, parents, etc. Either way, something needs to change because the cost of living isn't being met by the government or by businesses.

Tax in the UK is one of the strangest and most constantly changing systems in any economy. It kind of links back to welfare. The less people who work, the less people pay tax which mean those who do pay tax are paying more of it, make sense? Labour propose a tax bracket system, whereby those earning over 150,000 pay an increased rate of tax. The Conservatives have, for once, agreed with Labour in the aim to crack down on big businesses not paying the correct tax or using loopholes to as get-out-of-jail-free cards. Either way, we cannot continue to live in a nation whereby whose earning less than the living wage pay the same level of tax as those who earn their yearly income in a day. 

God, I fairly know how to ramble about politics! If you're still undecided about who will get your vote on Thursday, this is the most concise and non-bias guide I can find or if you prefer, here's some of my fellow bloggers' take on the election...

What Kaiesha has to say
What Becky has to say
What Sarah has to say
What Georgia has to say
What Zahra has to say

Hope you enjoyed reading this and even if you don't agree, let's all be respectful. In the name of democracy and all that!