Wednesday, May 6, 2015

How travelling has changed my perspective on voting

It's the general election tomorrow and today's blog is about how travelling has changed my perspective on voting.

I have to say – I’m pretty glad I’ve been out of the UK whilst the election campaign media circus has been raging on.

The constant one-upmanship, the egos, the fact that things completely unrelated to politics are pointed out to make politicians look bad or good and the fact that all we can talk about for the last month or so is what’s happening with the election.

Although, I have missed the satire that comes with it. Such as this absolute beauty and my goodness, whichever bright spark put Ed Miliband’s campaign video together with 8 Mile is genius.

The election does however bring up some interesting comparisons, especially when travelling and I have to say, as well as finding myself, becoming a better, more well-rounded person and the usual gap yah shebang, my eyes have been opened to the concept of voting, democratic process and the like.

All throughout school, I was – for want of a better word – a bit of a gobshite. I was never someone who got themself into huge trouble at school, but I didn’t make things easy for myself because I was a cheeky so-and-so and didn’t choose my timing wisely - I probably still am. My overly opinionated and domineering self meant I found myself spending school breaks indoors to “reflect on what I said and how I could have better dealt with the situation”.

Despite the fact I wanted everyone to know my opinion on everything to do with politics - honestly, from healthcare, immigration, foreign policy, you name it, I would give my (misinformed) opinion about it. I even got accused of being a communist by an equally opinionated person (I'm not a communist, just a bit more left-wing than he was).

And somehow, already, at the ripe old age of thirteen or fourteen, I was disillusioned with the system and didn’t see the point in voting. Why bother – because politicians are just going to do the opposite thing to what they say they’re going to do anyway, right?

The previous statement has some truth in it (Mr Clegg, looking at you) and I can understand why people don’t bother – politics is often made out to be an unattainable subject which only those who are ‘informed’ will understand.

But politics derives from the Greek word for many citizens and it boils to us, the people - despite the lack of diversity in parliament - and politics affects our everyday lives – getting the right healthcare, having access to high quality but affordable education or training, being able to get a job, we are all affected by these daily goings-on. But when conversations turn to political debates, a commonly used tactic to dissuade a person is to say they don’t know anything about politics.

OK, we may not know the exact ins-and-outs of NHS administration, we may not know the exact immigration statistics or we may not fully understand how Parliament works, but at some point in our lives, all of the aspects which the political leaders are fighting over have affected each and every one of us.

Especially when I've been travelling, I have come to realise that we have it lucky in the UK. It's obviously isn't a flawless example of democracy but on the whole, we have a fair representation and whilst politicians may not always play fair nor be upstanding examples of society, in comparison to some politicians worldwide, we do not have to deal with the same amount of corruption as many others do.

Then the voting process in itself is relatively simple, in comparison to other countries. 

In Colombia, in order to vote, you have to go to the city where you registered your cédula. This could be miles away from your current place of residence and it may not be possible to have your say in the country's political process because you're simply too far away. 

In Australia, you get fined if you do not vote. Whilst it's in many ways quite a good idea, I can imagine it's a bit of a pain in the arse, when you have to vote in every single election. But then again, it would be a fair representation of what Australians actually want - or is it, any Australians care to chip in?

A single vote won't make a difference and this is the argument I frequently hear from people who don't vote. I get it, I really do, especially when time and time again, the same old, same old seems to happen

But, in 2010, more people didn't vote than for any single party. That can make a huge difference and all it takes is a mere cross in a box at your local election station, which is probably not that far away. Heck, if you really want to shake up the political system, spoil your vote. Just don't not vote, many right npw are fighting for something we take for granted.

So, dear people of Britain, Thursday 7th May, you can make a big difference. 

I'm not going to tell you who to vote for - because who am I to tell you who to vote for - but if you're unsure as to who would represent your views best, check out Vote for Policies. It takes away all the personality drivel and boils down the parties' different policies for the main voting points.

If you've registered to vote, get your fine self down to the election station, even though I'm currently writing this with sand in my hair (and just about everywhere else, because I bring the entire beach back with me) in Panamá - hard life - my dear mam will be voting in proxy for me.

I'm having my say, it's time to have yours. As clichéd and sappy as it sounds, together we can make a difference and decide how we want our country to be run.

How has travelling changed your perspective? Do you see your home country in a different light?


  1. I was just writing about this on my blog too. I've been out of the UK for 3 years now and I'm so out-of-the-loop when it comes to what life is like there. I wondered whether expats should be voting for a place they don't intend to return to for the foreseeable future, especially if they haven't got all the information about the candidates. As a woman, I do always feel a duty to vote anyway no matter if I hate all the parties.

  2. Yeah you make a good point, I vote because it keeps an option open for me, if I do decide to return full time to the UK. Plus I can't vote elsewhere so I might as well have my say somewhere (or that's my opinion anyway haha).