IAN HART: There is no such thing as a wasted vote

Ian Hart
Ian Hart

Britain will go to the polls a week today, following possibly one of the most bizarre and intriguing election campaigns in modern times.

As a youngster I can remember the two elections of 1974. In the first, in February, Ted Heath took the striking miners on and asked the country ‘Who governs Britain?’, won the popular vote but didn’t win enough seats to stay in No. 10.

Then it was almost a full five years on to the arrival of our first ever female premier as, possibly on the back of the winter of discontent, Margaret Thatcher arrived at Downing Street, complete with Francis of Assisi quotations.

Britain’s second female Prime Minister has attracted many comparisons with her predecessor, and the question of whether Theresa May is Thatcher Mark Two or very much her own person will go a long way to being answered in the coming days.

The same can be said for her opponent Jeremy Corbyn, one of the most interesting figures in front line politics in the past 40 years.

Allegedly unwanted by a large number of his own parliamentary party, vilified by large sections of the media, yet with a certain attraction and appeal to an ever-growing percentage of the electorate.

Perhaps fuelled by the growing influence of social media, I cannot remember a campaign that has both polarised opinion and seen people debating the issues so passionately.

Both party leaders have their supporters and detractors in equal measure, with either side both claiming their vision for Britain is the correct one.

An often-used phrase is that in parts of the country a vote for a particular party is a wasted vote, but there’s actually no such thing.

The people who decide not to exercise their right to vote are not only giving up their right to complain but far more significantly insulting the memories of everyone who bravely sacrificed their lives fighting for democracy during the various conflicts of the past hundred years.

With a week to go, we don’t know who will win. The opinion polls have got it wrong on numerous occasions, so-no one from the respective parties can’t take anything as read.

Locally, with a number of candidates away from the traditional political spectrum, voters get the opportunity to make their own statement.

However you look at it, it clearly shows that it’s not a waste, but an essential part of the fabric of our society.

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