I vote for compassion

Polling place
Polling place

This afternoon I exercised my democratic right to vote; the first time I’ve voted in St Andrews since I was a student here in the early 90s.

I pray that the country votes with compassion, for a fairer future, to include and enable more people within society.

Austerity simply doesn’t work. It has been cruel, particularly on those who are impoverished or disabled.

I guess a lot of it comes down to what you see the role of government being. For me, it’s not to punish those less fortunate than ourselves; it’s not to normalise poverty and deprivation; it’s not to make the country a less secure place (in all meanings of the word); and it’s not to make the wealthiest few percent of the population even richer, which is what has happened under the Conservative government.

It is the task of the strong to lift up the weak, not crush them.

There is a lot of uncertainty in the world just now, a lot of fear, a lot of parochialism. We live now in a world that is more connected than it has ever been. I can communicate in real-time with people on the other side of the planet. Through social media I can find out the news, as it is happening, hundreds and thousands of miles away, before the mainstream media channels have distilled it, filtered it, and reflected it.

That we are so connected presents new challenges and new opportunities.

As a society, I would like us to embrace these opportunities—find ways for us to work together and collaborate on this tiny planet of ours, not close our metaphorical doors, pull up the drawbridge and believe that we have everything we need to look after ourselves, thank you very much. We don’t. We are connected. That’s one reason that I still feel so upset about Brexit—it is shortsighted, it is an insular approach, and a complete and utter waste of time and money.

Anyway… I voted. I didn’t have the opportunity to to write anything more than an X. I just have to wait in hope, and trust in the wisdom of crowds.

Four more years…

As I said on Twitter this morning:

Honestly UK, you just had one job: get the Tories out of Downing St. Five more years of punishing the most vulnerable in our society.

As the result trickles in this morning and the political map of the UK begins to look like Maggie Simpson and that the Conservatives are likely to remain in government, I have had this song from Warrior Soul’s debut album Last Decade Dead Century (1990) going around my head.

Can you believe how little you care?
The friendly face of the empire leader
Conquest of style, ego hate
Walk amongst the dogs
While the violence kills the declined state

Have you eaten today?
I am glad
Your digestion is the sorrow of the hungry
So tired of rejection and stupidity

[…]

I want the world to heal
I want the world to love
But it cannot

4 more years
4 more years
4 more years
4 more years

Non-specific Election 2010

Nick Clegg, Gordon Brown and David Cameron

Someone at church yesterday morning asked for my opinion on the General Election. “I’m not referring to it as a General Election,” I said. “I’m calling it a Non-specific Election!”

I remember the enormous excitement of Labour coming to power in 1997, having brought the Conservative Party’s 18 years of government to an end. I was living in London at the time, and I remember walking to work the following morning, the sky was blue, the sun was shining and it felt like a brave new world. I felt like a kid on Christmas morning.

Last Friday, on the morning after this most recent election, I also felt like a kid on Christmas morning. Except this time someone had removed the labels from all of the presents and nobody knew what they were getting!

British politics

It’s an exciting time in British politics. I’m not surprised that parliament in hung, although to be honest following the recent MPs’ expenses scandal I’m a little surprised that it didn’t end up as a hanged parliament!

That no party has an overall majority seems to me to be in keeping with a fragility in our confidence in politicians at the moment. What was it, 65% of the British population turned out to vote? Presumably the other 35% were still queuing in the rain at 22:00 when the polls closed. Or perhaps they’d just given up hope in politics altogether.

But to my mind what doesn’t seem fair is that while Labour received 29% of the vote and won 258 seats, the Liberal Democrats received 23% of the vote and won only 57 seats. It would appear that that extra 6% of the vote somehow translates to 201 seats. How does that work, then? Maybe we do need political reform after all.