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April 13, 2010 / kathrynllewellyn

To vote or not to vote – when some people die for that choice.

I am amazed at how voting is so under valued, yet the criticism placed on politics and politicians so high. I understand completely that people feel let down by our politicians; particularly over the expenses issue, which was not party specific and affected all politicians and our belief and faith in them.  I felt incredibly let down too and it rocked my faith in certain individuals. But, you know what, that process also revealed that although there was the opportunity to abuse our trust, some of them didn’t. Some of them acted in a way that I want and expect my politicians to behave- honorably.

To turn your back on voting and disengage from the process of democracy is most definitely not the answer. I don’t want to bore you with the history of emancipation and the struggles that have gone on in the past for the right to vote. I am however going to tell you about the recent and current events that has led to my blogging plea to you to vote.

I’ve been talking to my friends in Zimbabwe and Swaziland about this lack of passion around voting and they can not understand why anyone would pass up such a precious gift. One of these Zimbabwean friends said “why Kathy, it is like someone giving you $100 note and instead of using it to buy something useful, or invest, you rip it up and throw it away because you don’t like the face on it.”  I really like this analogy, because voting is an investment in your future and your families future and what a waste to not use it.

These southern African friends I spoke to have been tortured, beaten, arrested and harassed. They undergo this shameful treatment on a regular basis, even today, all for the right to vote in democratic elections.  People across the world risk there lives for the right to vote. They feel that the right to determine how and who governs their country is worth that pain and suffering.

In the last elections in Zimbabwe people were had fingers cut off if they were found to have ink on them; a sign that they voted. Knowing the risks and being beaten before Election Day, having family members killed and property destroyed: they still voted. They voted because they didn’t want to be voiceless and have no opportunity to improve their circumstances. They voted because they believe in their right to chose who governs their country. They voted because it matters.

Those of you, who know me, know I will be voting for the Labour party. I personally feel that they represent me and my values and goals closest. Does that mean I agree with everything they say, of course not. But do I think that they will listen to me and my concerns and make real steps to address these concerns, absolutely yes.  For me, they have a track record in doing this. Gordon Brown was instrumental in the process of getting a UN agency for women onto the agenda in a serious way. In fact I would go as far as to say, he was the person who made it happen (see below blog for more detail on the women agency’s). We lobbied him, he listened and he acted.  He gets some pretty tough press, but I have to say I have found him to be a man of his word and a man of honor.

They are my political views and not one that I expect you all to share. But please have a view and please look at the policies that will affect you and your families and find out which party you think will represent your interests best. Above all please use the very precious right you have to vote, knowing that people not so far away, are dying for this right.

Politics is for all of us whether you want it to be or not. It gives us the power to shape our lives and futures. We don’t have to work for this power or right we just have to doing something that is so easy for us and so envied by others – VOTE!

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