On Tuesday the 18th of April Theresa May announced she would be holding a general election on the 8th of June, which in my opinion is a terrible idea. But I’m not here today to tell you why I think this is a terrible time to hold a general election or who to vote for. But I am going to tell you how to vote and why you should.
HOW DID IT COME TO THIS
Some of you may be very confused about how this came about (I know I am), here is a condensed version of the last 2 years in UK politics. One of the key points in the Conservative manifest when they ran for election in 2015 was that they would hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU. Now I read somewhere they did this to get UKIP votes but I may be wrong.
In 2016 that EU referendum happened and the UK voted to leave the EU (the actual results were 51% leave 48% remain). At this point David Cameron resigned as PM because he didn’t actually want to leave the EU. And then somehow we ended up with Theresa May as prime minister? Like no one actually voted for her, all the other candidates dropped out so she got the job.
EVERYTHING’S GOING TO BE OKAY
Even though it’s really not. May called for an election at this time because she has a good chance of winning it. If the Conservatives win a majority it means they will be in power for another 5 years and it could take up to 15 for any opposition to take over. The best we could hope for just now is a coalition even though the Lib Dems aren’t much better (apparently Farron is a homophobe?), Labour, the official opposition is doing even worse.
This election also creates problems for Scotland and holding another independence referendum. Out of 59 seats the SNP currently hold 54. There is a very small chance of the SNP gaining seats, but if they loose seats the Conservatives will claim it as a victory and it could put holding a referendum into doubt.
WHAT TO DO
First of all make sure you’re registered to vote. If you’re 18 or over on the 8th of June you can vote. You can use this link and it takes around 5 minutes. For this election you need to have registered by the 22nd of May to be eligible to vote.
If you know you’re going to be out of the UK or can’t get to a polling station for some reason you can sign up for a postal vote. If you haven’t registered yet you can sign up during this process. If you’re already registered to vote at a polling station you can apply for a postal vote by filling out this form and handing it into your local electoral office. If you want a postal vote you have to apply by the 23rd of May.
NOW GO VOTE
I think this is the most important point. Actually getting registered to vote is good. But you have to then go out and vote. If you have a postal vote fill it in and send it off as soon as. If you leave it too late you send your vote back by post you can still hand your vote into your electoral registration office or polling station by 10pm on polling day.
If you have disabilities which make getting to the polling station difficult you can get in contact with your local electoral registration office which can help you get to the polling station and with any aids you may need. This includes large print ballot form and a tactile voting device, if this isn’t enough you can also request for an aide to help you at the polling station.
WHO TO VOTE FOR
The three main parties in the UK are the Conservatives, who are currently in power. The opposition, Labour run by Jeremy Corbin and the Lib Dems run by Tim Farron. You also have other parties like the Greens and SNP who can’t really do anything meaningful because they don’t have enough seats but you can still vote for them.
Because this election was only announced 2 days ago we don’t have any manifestos for these parties so you can’t decide who to vote on based on that. The best thing you can do right now is do a little research into the parties and find out which party views most align with you. You can use Who Should You Vote For when they update the website for the 2017 election.
It’s a good idea to look at the MPs who are running in your constituency. You can find out who your MP is currently using They Work For You and see how they have voted. But it’s a good idea to not vote just based on the local level because for most important issues MPs have to vote according to party policy.
YOUR VOTE MATTERS
I realise this seems silly to say but I know some people don’t vote because they don’t think their vote matters. But it does. We have a terrible electoral system in the UK which means the first party to get half of the votes wins, this means you don’t need a majority to win (CGPGrey did a good video explaining this here). No matter how unimportant you think your vote is, it won’t change anything on its own but it still matters.
If you don’t vote because you don’t think you know enough the best thing to do is educate yourself. If you don’t vote because none of the candidates represent your views you can make a protest vote by defacing the ballot in some way. This isn’t advisable but it is better to do this than not vote at all because you vote is still counted.
WHAT TO DO NOW
The best thing to do now is look at the party manifestos when those are eventually released. You need to make a decision who to vote for based on your own views. It’s a good idea to not vote based on wild promises made by politicians in the run up to an election.
Nowadays it seems common for candidates to make wild claims in order to gain voters. Think of the bus during the EU referendum that said the NHS would get an extra £350 million a week, which Nigel Farage immediately refuted after Brexit won.
This election is being held at a bad time for young people, because it is right in the middle of exams for English students. If you are young and eligible to vote in this election the best thing you can do is sign up for a postal vote and vote early.
The most important thing out of this that you need to do is vote. In 2015 only 66% of all eligible voters cast their vote. If more people voted in elections it could make a huge difference. Think of it another way, if you’re living in this country don’t you want a say in how it is run? This is your chance to have a say.