Previously when asked why I vote, my response has always been along the lines of 'well if you don't vote you don't have a right to complain when things go wrong.' This strikes me now as a very negative way of looking at voting. My revised answer is that by voting in the election you can support a candidate who will represent your views and can influence the policy issues you care about. An election is also your chance to speak out if you have a complaint about the way the Parish/Borough/District/Country is being run. Voting is not the only way to participate but it's the quickest and easiest way. If you don't vote, you'll have had no say over who will be making decisions on the issues important to you.
I'm afraid that politics is everywhere. It's not something that can be stopped or paused. I am actively involved in politics, I enjoy politics I always have, but even I think from time to time could we just have a pause. But our society doesn't work that way. Politics dictates everything. If you are functioning in our society you are I'm afraid involved in politics. You can't avoid it. Political debates exist around everything we do. Poor a bowl of breakfast cereal and politicians have been involved in the food labelling and food standards of that meal. Switch on the TV, hope you've got a TV licence even if you're not tuning into the BBC - politics. Bit of social media catch up? Where do you stand on Facebook/Twitter and their inaction over recent racist/sexist abuse on their platforms to black and female athletes? You might declare yourself the most unpolitical person on the planet but I'm afraid you can't escape it. Politics has literally dictated what you can and can't do over the past year.
Strap yourself in for a statement of the obvious. In a democracy, if you do not agree with the people who are in charge then you can vote in an election to try and change that. If you do agree with the people in charge, then you can vote in an election to make sure that they become politicians again. Politicians have to listen to the vote for them because, if they don't, people will vote for somebody else next time. Let me give you a painful example. The Lib Dems went into the 2019 General Election with a position on Europe that was deeply unpopular (reminder it was a position to ignore the result
of the referendum and revoke article 50). This position was utterly rejected by the electorate. Try and find a Lib Dem candidate standing for an election in May that would take the party's position from the election in December 2019 - you'd struggle. Politics is the ultimate you say we did. Politicians listen and the more people that vote the louder that voice and the more politicians will listen.
All candidates standing for the Liberal Democrats in Brentwood in the May elections this year have listened. We believe we can improve Brentwood as a place to live. Please see our manifesto here.
We believe that we can make Brentwood a safer, greener and fairer place to live. We believe we can provide better support to those that need it. Unlike the Conservatives we will fight for the independence of Brentwood and not link up with a combined South Essex authority.
So please vote and consider the Liberal Democrats as the place to loan your vote to. We do and will continue to listen.
Gary MacDonnell is Chair of Brentwood Liberal Democrats and our candidate for the 2021 Borough Council election for Shenfield Ward. You can contact him at email@example.com