Teaching ’em young

voting

Even if you aren’t into politics, it probably hadn’t escaped your attention that there were some elections across the UK last week. As a Labour Party member, activist, and councillor, I concede that I probably take more of an interest in this than some, but I really do bloody love an election.

In spite of needing to spend pretty much the entire day getting out the vote last year at the General Election, I didn’t register for a postal vote and still took the time to go to my local polling station and put that X in the box. For our family this felt even more exciting than usual. We had been campaigning for years, we felt the hope that something could change, and we had our 4 month old son with us. On the morning of the election, Robert, not usually one for packing an emotional punch with his words managed to hit me right in the feels when he posted on his Facebook:

Sarah and I joined the Labour party five years ago.
I can’t and won’t defend a lot of Labour’s positions and policies; but my abiding political desire has always been about fairness.
The convenient half-truths the Conservatives peddle around ‘trickle-down’ economics, charity, and purported greater private sector efficiency have never convinced me.
We tried to provide for the poor through sporadic charity in the 19th and early 20th centuries; yes there was good work, but it failed, so we built a welfare state.
What is the point of growing the economy if the richest few increase their share? What’s left for everyone else is reduced anyway.
How can we live in a country where working people need tax credits and food banks to survive?
I would love electoral reform, I would love a mainstream politician in a ruling party to stop paying for infrastructure in ruinously short-sighted PFI schemes, I would love the Labour party to stop renewing the rail franchises, to have the temerity to suggest that privatisation isn’t the solution to every problem.

I’m going to take my infant son to the polling station and dream of a better future.

Well. We all know how that turned out, and that is probably a story for another day. But it was important for us to have J with us when we voted. Not only because he had been schlepped around on the campaign trail for weeks, but because this act of going and casting my vote matters to me, and I want it to matter to him too.

This year I loved seeing lots of posts, particularly on Instagram of babies and kids at their local polling stations. Oh how I love the smell of democracy in the morning. It got me to thinking though, it’s obviously not just me who feels this way. So like any well trained canvasser, I asked some of these Mums why it was important to them and they shared their thoughts and a couple of anecdotes:

⊗ I know he won’t remember it, but I think it’s important for him to come along. Hoping that it might get him interested in how politics changes our lives and get him voting when he is old enough 

⊗ It’s really important to me to show Lenny it’s a big deal voting. We went as a family and we had a takeaway & bottle of bubbles to celebrate. We did the same last year too, although much less happy outcome. We also dressed for the occasion.

⊗…My postal vote arrived, I filled it in, I left it out on the side to remind myself to post it. Mere minutes later I heard a ripping noise – my 18 mo had found it (apparently she’s had a growth spurt because I didn’t think she would be able to reach the surface where I had left it!) and was gleefully ripping open the envelope! It was no longer postable! Thankfully I now work part time and was off on Thursday so I popped into my local polling station, toddler in tow, and had to say “can you accept this? My toddler ruined it”! Luckily they all found it funny (daughter charmed the pants off them all) and they were able to accept it. I will embarrass her with this story when she’s 18!

⊗ Dear UKIP candidate for Saltdean,
Thank you for taking our picture outside the polling station. I have been telling my daughter how important voting is and I will be taking her to every voting opportunity we have. I will show her this picture in years to come and tell her about this day and about the man who took our picture. I will tell her about your party, how you wanted a country essentially free of diversity, how you didn’t believe that we should help people in other countries so desperately needing our aid, and how you proudly denied the existence of the climate change she will, sadly, be acutely aware of. I will remind her of this day when she has her very first chance to vote. That day she will be empowered to make her choice, and you, and the disgraceful party you represent, will be just a distant memory.

I didn’t want this post to be a party political one, although I should be clear that to the best of my knowledge, I have never kissed a Tory. What is heartwarming to see, is whoever you vote for, you are voting, and teaching your kids that politics matters.

I hope when our children are old enough to vote, we haven’t ballsed it up too badly. I hope they are compassionate, forward thinking, enlightened people who will want to change the world.

This post was brought to you by:

Billy Bragg (Obviously)

Naptime (As ever)

SUNSHINE!

One thought on “Teaching ’em young

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