I’ve always struggled with opinions, both my own and other people’s. I literally hate other people’s, because the one-time-out-of-ten where I feel like I know enough about something to have an intelligent discussion about it, there’s always someone else who shouts loud enough to drown out what was a previously well structured thought process, leaving me blindly agreeing with whatever bullshit they seem to believe. I like to keep my mouth shut when I have a limited understanding of the subject, which is more than can be said about a population who want the world to value their opinions above all else.
I mean, I think we’re all in agreement that people are shit, and that a general election this year is bringing the worst out of quite a lot of us, me included, probably. I spent the majority of the last four years not giving a shit. Generally my engagement with the establishment is limited to a salary comparison app that tells me I’m 42 pence better of this tax year than last - thanks Dave, I’ll try not to spend it all at once or put it towards buying The Big Issue, promise.
So here I am, finding myself attacked from all sides as I sway from left to right and back again in the vain hope that I’ll eventually settle on a decision that satiates my desire for a morally and logically beneficial future for society. Whatever opinion I seem to have, there’s somebody who thinks they know better telling me I’m wrong, telling me that I haven’t looked into it enough or that because their mate Steve once met a bloke in the Nag’s Head at 2am who saw Cameron take a shit in a park and blame it on his dog, I shouldn’t vote for him.
But here’s the thing. Have you ever tried to look into everything in enough detail to know the right answers? It’s nigh-on impossible. Yeah, I know Google exists, but there’s so much diatribe surrounding the political landscape that sifting through it all would mean I would only eventually know enough about the current government in five year’s time, at which point I have to vote again after it’s all changed and frankly I don’t have time because I like Take Me Out and reddit too much.
I’ve tried to narrow it down to what’s most important to me. Originally, this was education as my Mum’s a headteacher who has been repeatedly shafted by government and it’s been really shit for her. I’d like to think that the four birthday cake-candle wishes I spent hoping Gove would die were at least partly responsible for his dismissal as Education Secretary, but I digress. I decided last month that education wasn’t as important to me as it seems like it’s alright really and I don’t have to do it any more. Call me selfish, but it’s not number one on my priority list. It’s not the only department that has had its purse strings tightened.
Then I thought the NHS was a big deal, and sort of believed all the hype around its privatisation and cuts and how if I had surgery this year the doctor was probably going to run out of skill or stitches before I stopped bleeding. But then I spoke to some doctors who tell me that it has been hugely inefficient under public governance and that privatising some of it would make financial and economic sense. I also have private healthcare through work so really I don’t have to worry too much - cheers BUPA. Some of the strain the NHS is facing and a key contributor to the long waiting times is that people are going to A&E because they scratched themselves jumping over their neighbour's fence and lack the basic understanding that thorns do not count as deadly weapons and herpes is not a life-threatening illness. Also, if we improve the economy, then surely that means we have more money to spend on the NHS…?
Then I came across the Green Party. 'Wow,' I thought, 'These guys really stand for everything I believe in, morally!' Looking after the environment, investing in the NHS, protecting the rights of young people to have a good education - and I could go on. The answer to everything I didn’t realise I cared so much about! There are exceptions, obviously: Disarming Trident, for example. With Putin around that would be like trying to hug the school bully. He’s going to give you a wedgie you’ll be lucky to live to regret and he’s not going to respect you more for laughing at yourself like your parents told you to. He’d probably Snapchat pressing the big red button and send it to Natalie Bennet saying “LOL checkmate, tree-hugger.” The man gives no fucks and if we think he relies on or respects the West in any way I think we are sorely mistaken.
Anyway, I digress again. The Green Party are bonkers, really, and what sealed it was the 60% tax rate. Regardless of how much earning potential I have (millions?) I fundamentally do not agree that people who work hard should have to sacrifice over HALF of their income to the state. Ignore the bottom line numbers, I disagree with it on principle. Perhaps it’s a nice idea, sharing the wealth and all that, but it actually comes across as punishment for being successful, which isn’t so cushty.
Then there’s the economy. I think about my day-to-day life and what influences me the most. Money. Whether I’ve had a good month or I’m skint, everything I do and consume is traded for money. Scaling that up, it seems it’s the same for the country, too. I genuinely don’t know whether to believe that Labour left the place looking like the morning after a Project X party, but there’s a bit of a correlation with the recession and the last four years have gone pretty well for me economically so I have no reason to believe that we’re anything other than better off as a nation. People harking on about how the deficit hasn’t been reduced by much but surely it’s encouraging that it hasn’t grown? The economy seems most important and something that feeds positive growth into everything else. So what if it’s designed to assist big business - doesn’t that help us as a majority?
Here’s the kicker, though. Something that just pushes my apathy to dizzying heights. My vote doesn't matter at all! I could die tomorrow and my lack of a vote wouldn’t cause so much as a ripple. Whichever national representative I decide to back, it doesn’t translate into the local voting system that we have to feed into. The Labour-centric Lambeth constituency in which I live and vote won’t change if I make a protest vote or don’t even vote at all. I feel passionately about making my voice heard (at least for another week), but in this system what is the fucking point? People say “you could get out there and canvass then to raise awareness” but have you met the young people who do that? They are some of the worst people I have ever encountered because politics influences everything they do! People who don’t want to eat carrots just in case it suggests they align partially with the Liberal Democrats, sharing party videos and pictures of their glorious leaders kissing babies, they’re a lot like Vegans. 'How do you know someone’s a vegan? They fucking tell you.' There’s this girl I went to university with who was intensely boring then and now she’s standing for local council she’s even more boring. There’s being engaged with politics and there’s being a dick. If there’s one thing you should try not to be, it’s a dick.
So what does it matter? I just want to soil my ballot paper next week. Should that be 'spoil'? Are they the same thing? I’ve been debating on whether I should ask the question because I don’t want to be arrested next week…
I want to vote. I think it is so important that we have the opportunity to influence how our country is run, but then isn’t that a complete illusion? We have NO control at all if we don’t agree with how our community feels, because they’ll all vote one way and I might as well make a paper aeroplane out of my ballot paper and throw it at Gordon Brown, hoping to hit him in the eye so I know which one I should be looking at when I speak to him. What’s the point in 'voting in principle' if your principles are fucking ignored? Protest votes in my generation don’t exist because hardly any of us 'youth' give a shit. I don’t blame us either. I don’t feel like I can believe anything these dickhead “leaders” are shouting about and there aren’t enough hours in the day to reach an objective conclusion about any of it so really, why the fuck should we even try?