I voted, very early this morning. Going in, I met a lady from my yoga class coming out, though didn’t dare tell her how much I was aching from the hour and a half class that had stretched and stretch for two hours. I’m the only bloke, so I feel I have to be butch. And try to contain my trumps, which is much more difficult.
We has a fair stream of people coming and going, which is encouraging to see. Our voting site is an outbuilding from the local school. It’s where the students are counselled, and so it’s great to see there are positive messages everywhere about self-esteem, and sharing, and caring. It’s a nice place to be. Last time I voted, there were a lot of posters and leaflets being affirmative about LGBT identity, how important it is to value yourself and others. Other friends have told me about how they’ve had UKIP supporters threatening to stab people outside their Voting Station. I wasn’t surprised.
After voting, some bloke turned up to drive my car off for its MOT, as I’m not allowed in the driving seat anymore. There’s an analogy there somewhere.
I get a kick out of voting. I recall going to vote not long after Nelson Mandela had ben released, and stopping to think how important the whole thing really is. Tomorrow is VE Day. I’m not on celebrating war, but I know far too many people were killed, and that my ancestors have made huge sacrifices just so I can turn up and use a stubby little pencil to put a cross in a box.
I know that voting isn’t the end of it all. I’ve been an activist, I’ve been on protests and marches and parades, and I’ve campaigned. Occasionally I’ve taken (peaceful) direct action. Once upon a time I handed myself in tot he police for being a ‘Sex Criminal’ when the Age Of Consent in the UK was discriminating against queer sexuality. I may or may not have been dressed as a nun at the time. And I wrote about my experiences during the Poll Tax ‘Riot’ in a previous blog here.
I’m not ‘tribal’ in my politics, but have a lefty bent. I admire those of my friends who have been grafting hard on behalf of professional politicians who really don’t deserve half the support they’ve been given. This year, so much has been stage managed, to the point where politicians feel it’s perfectly OK to just not engage in television debates or with real members of the public anymore. My hero of this election is the ‘hyacinth heckler’ who accused PM David Cameron of racism for the way he and his party have depicted the Scottish National Party. How great to hear a real voice amidst the din of commentary, fawning, political pandering, obfuscation and downright lies. I’ve mostly been a ‘hacktivist’, tweeting and posting any old stuff that seemed to me to reflect some of my agenda. It’s all second hand, and so I take the time to thank and acknowledge those who have worked really hard to engage people like me in the political process, to persuade and argue and cajole, to stand on doorsteps and street corners and challenge, and debate, and get sworn or laughed at. And those who sit for hours staffing the election booths – when I spoke tot he two people at my election office this morning, they told they’d sworn’ Never again’. I thanked them for never saying never. Because, without them …
Having said that, locally we also have a little local ‘colour’ this year. Which is a polite way of saying the extreme right wing, in its various historical guises of BNP and EDL, have been out peddling their usual xenophobic nonsense. It comes in shades, from dilute forms of UKIP through to a new manifestation in ‘The MAINSTREAM Party’, who proudly proclaim ‘We don’t do Minorities’. Their election slogan is ‘Britain and Europe back to Normal. NOW.’ I don’t even understand what that means. I won’t bore you with the details of their ‘manifesto’, but it appears they’re not as keen on The Gays as our local voting booth is. There’s quite a lot of tutting and repressed anger involved. But if you want to know more, the Mainstream Candidate has given his contact details – 07931 084762, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
I didn’t vote Mainstream. And although today we’re being urged to vote for the ‘less bad’ option, I truly voted idealistically and with my heart. That’s as strategic as I get.
Yes, of course I voted to Keep Britain Bona. In a way, every vote does that. Buck the trend and get involved. Have your say – vote, but don’t leave it there. Bang a drum, shout a chant, sign a petition, hacktivate. Challenge, hope, change.
Say No to Normal.