Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I voted in the European elections yesterday. That puts me in a minority (nothing new there then) - only 40% of people bothered.

The EU parliament which I helped to elect is responsible for passing laws which affect all sorts of things across Europe. It's not as if they are things no-one cares about; a common theme of British life is people complaining about the latest EU directive. But it seems that here as in so many areas, British people would prefer to whinge about the situation than to actually do something about it.

I've voted in every election here since I've been eligible. I feel it is not just a privilege but also a duty. I owe it to myself and everyone else who lives in this country, since the election affects everyone.

Moreover, though, I feel I owe it to all of the people in the world who have spent so much effort trying to get what we take for granted: a vote.

At the last elections, my wife didn't really like any of the candidates. But nonetheless she felt she had to go cast a vote, even if only to spoil her ballot paper. She remembered the story of Emily Davison, a member of the suffragette movement. She threw herself under the King's racehorse and was killed. That's how important voting was to her.

And in South Africa, elections are still a matter for national celebration, because so many people there were not allowed to vote for so long.

So as I walked from the polling station, I closed my eyes and pretended I was in South Africa.

I wonder what Emily Davison would say now. She gave her life so that half the population here could vote, and now half the population aren't even willing to give up their seat on the sofa for ten minutes.

Originally posted 2004-06-11


Post a Comment

<< Home