The here and now and a bit of way back then

I relived my journey to 40 and found there's so much more to say

So the UK voting population has spoken

on May 9, 2015

So 66% (46.4 million) of the UK population eligible to vote went to the Polling Stations on Thursday, 7 May 2015 to make their voices count in this year’s General Election. 


As a free and democratic society, the people have spoken and the UK will be led by a Conservative Party majority government for the next five years.

 

 


Five more years of Conservative leadership. Five more years of David Cameron. 


Actually not necessarily in the fickle world of politics. Not quite Game of Thrones fickle but perhaps more Premier League Football Manager in charge of team one point above relegation zone fickle.  



There’s something about politics that grows on you as you get older. The importance to have a better understanding of it all that you didn’t quite have in your youth besides knowing who the main political parties were. I did not have a family that sat around discussing the government’s poilitical manifesto over dinner.  Though I’m quite sure my family did vote because that’s what you did when the polling cards dropped through your letterbox.  

As a result, I personally feel the conversation about exercising your right to vote needs to start early on. Perhaps #1, 2 and 3 are a little young right now. But come the next General Election, #1 will be 11 and by the time he’ll be able to vote in a General Election, he’ll be 21, #2 will be 19 and #3 will be 18. Will it be too much to expect their vote to be made based on a balanced view on issues that may not affect them directly at that age but for the greater good of the UK as a whole.     

More importantly, when listening to the views of every MP for every party, what it is that you need to listen out for. The translation of MPs telling us what they think we want to hear into what it actually means for us. Because quite frankly, I’m still confused about what each Party said they were going to deliver. This could be due to several reasons. 

  • I just do not understand politics.
  • I have been away from the UK for too long.
  • I have not been bombarded by extensive media coverage of the campaign trails these past months.
  • I did not have Boris Johnson and David Cameron personally visit my place of Gainful Employment.


And ultimately, if we don’t like what we hear and what it actually means for us then how can we go about changing it. So often, there’s that ‘what’s the point’ apathy that exists. 66% may have turned up to vote last Thursday but from the 1920s until 1997, the percentage was up in the high 70s and even 80s. We are much better informed and have far greater means to have our voices heard these days and we can say what we feel without fear of retribution unlike in many other societies, democratic or otherwise.  



I know they say never discuss religion and politics but I feel I could learn a lot from discussing politics because there’s just so much information to absorb. I could always do with a little more education in this area. I need someone to draw me up a crib sheet of each Parties main points so I can sit down and think about it. Gone are the days of Labour means fiscal policy and the working class and Conservative means monetary policy and capitalists and the Lib Dems in case you were just unsure. And just now there was UKIP and the SNP and whilst I wasn’t swayed by either of these parties, it’s just more and more information thrown at you.  

This is before even trying to decipher the voting outcomes. How UKIP can have the third highest number of votes at 3.8 million and have one MP but the SNP gains 56 MPs with 1.4 million votes. How Nick Clegg is shamed for losing 49 seats with 2.4 million votes (the Coalition did you no favours). How Ed Milliband accepts the defeat of Labour as purely his responsibility and yet would you say the success of the Conservatives was purely because of David Cameron? But Ed did you really stand a chance after the whole Ed/David Milliband for Labour Party leader?

 

 



So I’m not surprised even on the morning of Election Day, some were still confused as to who to go for or how to vote for the best outcome. It appears, like with most things in this modern world, we have too much choice.  

I listened to a debate amongst seven leading female MPs including Teresa May and Harriet Harman representing seven main parties who first gave a brief overview of what their Party wanted for the UK and then there was an open debate over some of the main issues like immigration, reducing the national debt, investing in the economy, free childcare hours for working parents and the effects of cutting welfare.  

The NHS was also a big thing. I don’t think there is anything like the NHS anywhere else. Having lived in Singapore for the last six and a half years where nothing is free, hence queues hours long for the most ridiculous things, I appreciate the luxury of a free healthcare system. I can’t remember the exact figure it cost us for the prenatal and hospital care for having #1, 2 and 3 in Singapore but it was probably around S$10,000 per child. Throw in an unplanned C-section and you’re looking at an extra S$15,000. For that you could choose to have your own private room or share with one or upto three other people for two, even three nights. My care was excellent, the hospital was like checking into a hotel and my room came with a flat screen tv. As you would expect from private healthcare.  

And I have had conversations with Singaporeans who are incredulous at the thought of how education is free in the UK. They think that’s amazing. Then they’ve heard about how if you don’t have a job then the governement will look after you. Yes that’s also true. What they don’t know is how much higher the tax rates are in the UK in comparison to Singapore. How much pressure there is on services and how the welfare state is not treated as well as it should be by some. That’s the thing. Politics is a complex issue. It’s also a hugely emotive issue.

  


Perhaps it’s more for emotive reasons than factual reasons that we discuss it less amongst ourselves. Because somehow or other, in one way or another, we feel and we have real experience of how we have been let down by The System. And it’s depressing reading and news to hear about all the shit stuff that the economy and measures of austerity have brought upon the UK. It’s not just about balancing the books and more spending on healthcare, education, housing and where is all the money going to come from but also about why there is pressure on healthcare like the rise in obesity and general unhealthy living habits. It was hard to hear and it was overwhelming before I could even take in what each Party was going to do about it all to turn things around. 

So now Election Day 2015 is over. The Conservative Party are leading with a majority which I prefer than having another coalition government. The reason why I feel this is quite simplistic. Every Party disagrees with each other on policy. Every Party sells you how they are different. Could you not agree on some things? Could you not just say, that’s a good approach rather than picking at it and shouting at each other across a room?  

I know that no one Party will have it exactly right. And I know that changing government every five years is not the best way to create stability. Especially if they can’t agree on anything and seek to change how things are ran as soon as they get into power. Singapore has been governed by the same political party for 50 years to rise from nothing to what it is today.  

It’s exhausting this idea of voting. And it takes a lot of time and passion dedicating yourself to being informed enough to make the right decision. It dawned on me the responsiblity we have. How our participation, and more importantly, our lack of participation affects not just us ourselves but the future of our children. It seems caring for our children is not about the day to day looking after, the instilling of good values or the education we can give them but also using our right to vote.  

So it doesn’t end here regardless of whether you are happy or not with the outcome. The dust will settle. Emotions will recover. It doesn’t mean we don’t need to pay attention for another five years. It’s only just beginning. To see what this government plans to do. What the Oppostition parties plan to do. What does it mean for us. And who will replace Ed Milliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage and whether David Milliband will return from the US. And will there be more female MPs in the Cabinet. And what will Boris Johnston do next.    

So will someone be so kind to write me a crib sheet please and we can discuss it over a beer or two.    


 

 

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