I'm actually disappointed in myself. Had been tied up in personal stuff that I actually forgot to vote :/ Thankfully it was the local council elections and not a general election but still...
I've always tried to vote at every opportunity. Not just out of respect for the Suffragette movement who fought for my gender's right to vote, not just because I like voicing my opinion (especially in ways that matter), but because I genuinely believe that if you don't vote, you have no right to complain about the way the country's being run. Even though I missed out on voting this time, I still voted at the last general election so in my eyes, it's still all good :P
Now, for those who are not British, you're probably in the dark as to what these elections are that I've just mentioned and why they were important.
Well see, in England we have a reasonably simple parliamentary system.
General Election - This is the one where we vote for the candidate that we want to represent our constituency in the Houses of Parliament. The more constituencies that are won by a party, the more seats they have in the House of Commons and the more control they have over the country.
Local Election - These are the ones where we vote for who we want to look after our local services. As London is a very large city, it's split into 14 different sections who vote not only for their local candidates for the London Assembly, but also for the Mayor of London.
All elections use the "first-past-the-post" system where whoever gets the most votes, wins. However, in general elections the party with the most votes has to hold a clear majority or the country has what is known as a "hung parliament". Sadly this has nothing to do with the politicians' genitalia...
Local elections are held at least every 4 years. Different local authorities hold them at different times due to them all being run differently. In this case, general elections were in 2010, local in 2012. For Americans, you can compare this local election to a mid-term and it's a pretty good indication as to how the country feels about the current government. This year I think it's pretty safe to say that most of the country are completely cunted off by the current government and their incompetencies.
At the current time of writing this post, 143 out of 181 councils have declared their results. Scotland began counting their votes this morning.
So far the results are as following:
Labour - currently 66 councils, gain of 28
Conservatives (a.k.a. Tories) - currently 36 councils, loss of 12
Liberal Democrats - currently 6 councils, loss of 1
No overall control - currently 33 councils, loss of 12.
Now, for those who aren't aware, the current UK government is made up of a coalition between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives. It was joked by some that we had Con-Demned ourselves in the 2010 General Election and 2 years on that seemed to be not so much of a joke but a harsh reality.
See, the problem is that younger people in England who had the right to vote in 2010 had known pretty much nothing but a Labour government, thought that things were pretty crappy with the economy and it's true that at the time Labour didn't have a clear strategy. They did come up with one which was a slow but steady growth to the economy, Conservatives and Lib Dems criticised them for not doing enough and called their plans crap. People listened to them and had lost faith in Labour after Tony Blair stepped down, leaving the party without a strong and charismatic leader.
The problems for Labour on top of that included going against public opinion on things such as the "war on terror". Most people saw it quite simply as we didn't want to go to war and yet the government decided that we would anyway. Of course, this was when George Bush was in office and a reason that a lot of us Brits take an interest in American politics: we like to see what dumbass you're going to vote in next and if he's going to be a complete and utter fucking moron like Gee Dubya Bush was. Believe it or not, we're quite a peaceable folk on our little rock. We don't much appreciate being dragged into conflicts unless it's necessary. The problem was that Bush was a bully. "You're with us or against us" and I don't doubt that part of the reason that the UK sided with America was so that the crazy bastard you had in office didn't turn the nukes on us. It's easier to go along with that than start World War 3, I guess. However, these actions left blue blood on the hands on the red hands of Labour and a lot of people lost faith in the party, moving onto other candidates such as the Greens and Lib Dems who promoted themselves as being true left-wing as opposed to Labour.
The Conservatives had last been in power in the 80s and early 90s. I remembered as a child the stories on the news about how the formerly glorious Conservative regime was falling to pieces. Maggie Thatcher lost some of her steam in her later years in office and her successor, John Major, was less useful than a chocolate kettle. Back then, they left office with our public transport and utilities privatised instead of being run by the state. The result since then has been that train fares have gone up extortionately with even worse service than before, buses have gone the same too, with fares rising faster than inflation. Gas and electric companies have hopped on that bandwagon as well. The Tories claimed this would be in our best interests as it would provide wider consumer choice and lower prices. It didn't. All it has done is change the basic amenities into another competitive market where companies try to squeeze as much money as possible from people. One or two private companies dominate the market and others simply can't compete aggressively enough.
The Conservatives also hit the self-destruct button by closing the mines, completely destroying Britain's mining industry. This forced us to go to other countries for exports. Quite simply, they damaged the country in a lot of ways before we kicked them out of office and left Labour with a lot on its plate to deal with.
The Lib Dems? Well, they had originally considered themselves to be the "neutral" party. They claimed their views and stances had shifted more and more to the left as Labour seemed to move more and more to the right. They had never had enough support to gain a large hold but a lot of people claimed they would vote Lib Dem if there was a chance they'd get in and saw them as the solution to the problems created by the other two parties. With Labour losing support, the Lib Dems seized on this chance and decided to try pushing the point that if enough people voted for them, they could get into government and make a difference.
When it came to the 2010 general election and a hung parliament, a coalition needed to be formed. That's a government made up of 2 parties to govern the nation and negotiate between them. A Labour/Conservative coalition was completely out of the question. A Lib Dem/Labour coalition looked like it was going to happen, before Nick Clegg's medication wore off and in a fit of insanity, he sided his party with the Conservatives and formed the current coalition government. The country was pretty divided about this.
Some thought that the Conservatives would do a better job than Labour and that Nick Clegg had sided with the right guys. A lot were disappointed with Clegg and lost faith in his party. A supposedly left wing party siding with a clearly right wing? What was this they didn't even. I know I certainly didn't even.
But hey, the Tories aren't all THAT bad, right guize? Well, clearly they are judging from the Lib Dem losses in this election and the opinion polls where former Lib Dem supporters are speaking out about how Clegg has betrayed his party's principles and policies with his decisions. It's certainly true that some of the decisions that the Lib Dems have been involved in are distinctly things that they were against in their manifesto. Granted that it's a given that all politicians are lying parasitic bastards. That's a given truth the world over. What people do is try to vote in the least hypocritical and the least dishonest. You can maintain faith in a party that goes back on a couple of things if they follow through with some of the stuff that they promised. That was a reason that Labour was voted in again. Because they did actually stand by their word and improve things in a lot of ways. The ConDems so far? They're trying to privatise our health care system. Yes, one thing that countries the world over admire and respect our country for. They will be cutting disability benefits. They have made thousands of disabled people redundant by axing jobs and yet somehow expect them to compete on an equal level with the current
The results thus far of the country's elections were charmingly summed up in this Facebook comment:
Latest election results has Labour running 49 councils, the Tories running 27 & the Lib Dems running a bric-a-brac shop in Taunton
I've said before that we, the British people, were responsible for getting these idiots in office. The results seen thus far make me think we as a country have started to realise that ourselves and want change. Thank you for restoring some of my faith in this country :)
P.S. If you're interested in the results:
Currently 127/128 for England (Scotland and Wales are separate areas you know ;P)
Lib Dems 6