It's that time again, politicians from left and right are out pounding the pavements across the country looking for people to vote for them. The 2015 general election campaign looks like it will be the closest election in decades. Either Labour or the Conservatives could win it and the Liberal Democrats, or the SNP are likely to be the kingmakers.
The political marketplace is now more crowded than it has ever been and yet millions of people at this election will not even bother to vote. Not to mention the fact that hundreds of thousands may not have even bothered to register to vote, many of which will be students. I think this is nothing less than a national tragedy. Our democracy is so important and yet millions are disengaged from it.
Politicians from all parties must of course take some of the blame for the level of political disengagement. Trust in politics is at an all-time low and parties across the spectrum lack distinctive positive visions. Not to mention the fact that many politicians come from privileged social backgrounds that often seem alien to most voters. Despite this fact there are more viable choices to vote for than ever before.
One hundred years ago not a single woman or a single poor person of either gender had the right to vote and we are still one of the significant minority of countries that have a genuine democracy that is free and fair. We cannot take our democracy for granted we must use our voting rights and always seek to improve and reform our democracy.
Beyond all other things democracy embodies political equality. It is the only true and absolute equality that we have. Everyone regardless of wealth, race, gender, class, ability/disability, age and sexual orientation has just one vote. Regardless of whether you are a banker or use a food bank you have just one vote. Regardless of whether you are the Prime Minister or an ordinary person you have just one vote.
British democracy has faced many threats. We achieved universal democracy in the aftermath of the First World War, but our grandparents soon had to fight to defend it against the Nazis in the Second World War. For the five decades that followed, Britain faced an equally big threat to our democracy coming from communism and the Soviet Union.
History has shown us the tireless work of campaigners around the world to achieve democracy; from George Washington to Martin Luther King, from Emmeline Pankhurst to Aung San Suu Kyi, from Mahatma Gandhi to Nelson Mandela. All of these political campaigners had to fight against those who were prepared to deny them their fundamental democratic rights. Such people didn't struggle to achieve our democratic rights just so they could be squandered by apathy.
Over the next five weeks engage with the political parties and take the opportunity to use your fundamental democratic rights. No one will ever listen to your voice if you are not prepared to use it. Of course there is the feeling that people have been ignored by politicians; so for goodness sake MAKE THEM LISTEN TO YOU!!! Don't be passive and apathetic, MAKE YOUR VOICE COUNT!!! Use the democratic rights that your great-grandmothers chained themselves to Parliament to achieve; and your grandfathers fought a world war to defend. Don't take democracy for granted, because in many parts of the world it does not exist. People from Hong Kong to Cairo are campaigning for democracy today. Even in this so-called advanced democracy; true democracy is less than 100 years old.
There is such a wide range of political parties out there.
The Conservatives have pledged to tackle the deficit with spending cuts and tax cuts.
Labour aims to strengthen social fairness and improve living standards.
The Liberal Democrats are the only party with a commitment to fill the £8 billion funding gap in the NHS, also they have radical plans to ensure civil liberties and political reform.
UKIP want Britain to leave the European Union and stop immigration.
The Green Party wants to stop climate change and renationalise the railways.
The Scottish National Party want to make Scotland an independent country.
These are just the core issues that define the leading parties, they have many more policies as well.
On May 7th ensure your political citizenship by casting a vote. And if you really can't bring yourself to vote for any party, then you should consider standing as an independent. If no-one is prepared to listen to you, then you make them listen to you through campaigning and persuading people. Democracy has the power to radically change things. Apathy is not an option and frankly it is an insult to all those around the world who struggle for democracy. OUR DEMOCRACY WILL ONLY REMAIN VIABLE IF PEOPLE LIKE YOU BOTHER TO VOTE!!!