I do like voting, and today I made a point of going into the village hall and putting my X on the spot. I have a clear memory of accompanying my Ma to another village hall several decades ago and watching her vote in a general election when I was knee-high to an opinion. And then, four years ago, I was able to take someone to vote for the first time ever and see his excitement in taking part in the democratic process. He expected queues, in a local election, bless him. But in fact he had the right of it.
It is the one thing that really frightens politicians. For that reason alone, it matters. But it matters for other reasons too.
People don’t believe there’s any point. The anarchists used to say that if voting changed anything, it would be abolished. The truth of that was brought home in London in the mid 1980s when Thatcher abolished the GLC and knocked out the only effective opposition, “Red” Ken in the glory days of County Hall. The only act in recent western history that was worse than the abolition of the GLC was Bush’s theft of the Florida votes in 2000, and for the same reason. It was politicians pissing on the electoral process. It was politicians pissing on us.
If it didn’t, Thatcher would never have abolished the GLC. If it didn’t, Bush wouldn’t have needed to frig the results in Florida in 2000.
This year, of all years, all over the world. Most of the time, I will freely admit, it makes bugger-all difference to anything, but even so it matters because it’s the only way we have of reminding the bastards that it’s us they work for.
Surely this is the most interesting year for elections in decades, with the Obama / Clinton stand-off in the USA, Mugabe rigging the election in Zimbabwe and still failing to win, and our two most bizzarely characterful politicians arm-wrestling for London.
So today I voted, in an empty village hall with the spring sun shining benignly down on an idyllic view.
I voted because women died so that I can vote.
I voted because so many Kenyans were killed because they voted.
I voted because Mugabe so clearly lost, even though he’s claimed a victory.
I voted because that’s how we got rid of Portillo and Kinnock.
I voted because politicians hate elections.
I voted because I can.