So the ‘majority’ have spoken and will be pleasantly pleased, if not surprised, that Cameron has secured a second term so soundly; that’s if you truly believe in calling 11.3 million voters out of a 46.5 million electorate the ‘majority’. However, if you happen to fall into the small minority of 35 million people who did not vote for a Conservative government, you may have woken up on the 8th May with a slight sense of hopelessness or powerlessness at the thought of another cutting Tory term.
Who would blame you when voting in a system that leaves millions of votes under-represented and millions over-represented? If anything can be learnt from the Green surge, or the rise and apparent fall of that guy from the pub and his party, is that voting does not necessarily translate into being listened to in Parliament.
Now this is not about to go all Russell Brand on you and tell you not to vote, then to vote for Green or Labour, then to just give up on politics. Not even to advocate criticism of Tory voters; everyone votes for a purpose and everyone has their reasoning. As much as everyone believes their opinions are right, they do not make others wrong. Instead, while Brand may have got his politics muddled, one sentiment worth echoing, one he has always seemed on point with, is the fact that power does not start and finish with Government. 35 million people are power, there is no doubt about that, and the power of 35 million do not disappear in one election night – one excruciatingly long night if you decide to do the ridiculous by staying up and watching.
The day after the election a good friend said that when it comes to politics he just deals with what he’s given; an easy going attitude, but something that struck a chord. This view is something to be learnt from – the system may be viewed as unfair, the result may not be what many wanted, but spending the next 5 years being bitter about it will not stop the policies expected to come. Instead everyone has to find a way to deal with what is given.
Whether you agree with their motives or not, given the experience of the last 5 years it is well known what is to be expected from this Tory government; austerity, cuts to welfare, cuts to the NHS, possibly cuts into the ground to pump out gas. To deal with this their election must first be accepted; rejecting it only clouds people with anger and resentment, causing them to oppose the parties rather than the policies they enact. This blocks people from being able to see what needs to be done, from empowering themselves. This loss of focus causes a sense of powerlessness, as effectively it hands the power to act to those in control.
It’s time to become empowered on the social justice issues that are aggrieving so many. It’s time to take the frustration, which has become so evident across social media this election, and put it into real action. David Cameron’s not going to take time to scroll through Facebook or Twitter reading complaints, or perhaps he is depending on what conspiracies you follow, but let’s be honest, do most friends even bother? Everyone is guilty of simply leaving complaints to the internet in hope that it will magically solve them, then getting further frustrated when it creates no response.
There is something appealing about venting opinions online; it is all in hope of spreading an opinion and hoping others start the change you want to see. Fortunately the majority who do this are not the ones heavily affected by the issues discussed online, yet are the ones in a real position to be able to make the changes looked for. Why wait for change to come from a Government who aren’t going to offer it, be it Tory, Labour, or Lib Dems.
It’s time to be the change you want to see in the world. Worried for the elderly and disabled who will be left lacking necessary care? Volunteer an hour or two of at a care home, they are going to need your help. Wondering whether the poor will be left vulnerable, in need of support and in further need of the rising number of food banks? Donate money, food, clothes, anything that is unnecessary to your needs. Concerned about the future of the NHS? Be responsible for your own health and avoid wasting the NHS staff’s precious time. Outraged by the tax breaks and subsidies received by big business? Stop being their customer. Starbucks is selling the same coffee as they are next door for a third of the price, just without the aesthetic logo. Questioning whether the government are going to take appropriate action before the 2 degree tipping point of global warming is reached, ominously ignored throughout the election? Ensure the best is done to cut your carbon footprint; recycle, cycle, and turn a light off once in a while. Some decision particularly outraging? Join in or start a protest whilst the right to do so is still there.
I do not claim to do all these – this is just as much a message to myself as it is to you – but these are all actions everyone has within their means to carry out, regardless of the party they vote for. Perhaps you voted Conservative for something that truly resonated with you, this does not necessarily mean endorsing the side effects, and it certainly does not mean action cannot be taken to counteract them. Do not let political opinions cloud the vision of what we, the everyday people, can do to create a better society; democratic participation does not end with the vote.