Election Anxiety & Who I'll Be Voting For Tomorrow
I can't be the only one who feels anxious whenever they put the news on at the moment, right?! Between devastating terrorist attacks, political dramas in the US and yet more doom and gloom for the economy, it hardly makes for uplifting viewing. But the subject that has been keeping me awake over the past couple of weeks is the UK general election. Sam and I were enjoying a long weekend in Anglesey when the snap election was called, and it feels like ever since the moment we received the breaking news alert, I've been plagued with worry and nerves.
I know that that might seem a little bit dramatic to some people. I know that some people feel like there won't be a huge difference to how the country is run regardless of who is in power. In past elections I would have felt inclined to agree, but this year feels different. This year it feels like the party we all choose to vote for could all make a difference.
As a girl from a working class family who grew up in the North West of England, I've only ever voted Labour. But I can't recall a time in my 9 year voting history where I've felt so passionately that they were the right party for this country. I've been discussing this a lot lately with friends, family and colleagues, but whenever I try to explain my choice to people who oppose my decision, I end up getting angry, then teary, then anxious. So rather than spend the next 24 hours in an emotional tangle, I thought I'd write all my thoughts down in a slightly more eloquent way.
My reasons for voting Labour are many, but let's start with one rooted in some solid academia. As a trained economist (put through 3 years of statistics and macroeconomics lectures that I'll never get back), I firmly believe that it is very, very difficult to grow an economy under austerity measures. This handy little article explains it better than I can, but essentially, if you make cuts to benefits, public sector salaries and government spending, people have less money to spend and therefore there is less demand for goods and services in the economy. This then has a knock on effect which means that businesses will struggle, tax income will be lower and the economy is likely to shrink rather than grow. To promote growth we need investment, spending and stimulus, not cuts and freezes. This is something that is already having a huge impact on the industry that I work in and I really do believe it will continue to reshape our country over the next few years if the Conservatives take power again.
My next reason for voting Labour tomorrow is that for my whole life, I have relied on public services. I was born in an NHS hospital . I was educated in a state school. I use public transport to get to work everyday. And it's not just me - I have family who have required life saving treatment from the NHS and have been able to access it without any trouble. I have friends who rely on government funded mental health services to be able to function on a daily basis. My Grandad has dementia and is receiving fantastic care provided by our local authority. All of these services are struggling and need investment and I feel like the only party offering a solution to tackle this are Labour.
I am passionate about how much we need these public services on our country. You might feel like you don't need to access or rely on them right now, but life is a lottery, and having that support from the social state can make difficult times so much easier. None of us can say with any guarantee that we won't get made redundant, or fall ill, or give birth to a child with a disability. Can you even begin to imagine how much more difficult those circumstances would be if you were having to work out what sort of care you could afford or which help you could access?
I am fortunate and privileged enough that no matter how the vote goes on Thursday, I will probably be okay. I have access to private healthcare at work, we own our own house, we have back up plans. But that's not the point. The point is that there are thousands and thousands of people who do not have those privileges, and I believe in a compassionate and caring society that looks out for those people too.
Whoever wins the election on Thursday will be in power for the next 5 years. In that time, I hope that Sam and I will be lucky enough to have a baby or two (not just yet though Mum, calm down). I want those babies to be born in an NHS hospital. I want both Sam and I to have access to fair maternity and paternity benefits. I want to have childcare options that make it feasible for me to return to the work that I love. I want those babies to have access to the sort of fantastic public education that I was afforded. And I want to be raising them in a country that cares for everyone, not one where communities have been broken down.
And so that's why I'll be voting for Labour tomorrow. We have the chance to change the direction our country is headed in. We have the opportunity to prevent our communities being divided and our social services being privatised. And we have the chance to show that we live in a country that cares for everyone, no matter what walk of life you happen to be born into. Never before have young people had such a huge opportunity to swing an election and so we must get out there and vote.
If anyone is still on the fence and wants to discuss the policies of both parties with anyone, then please, please, please feel free to drop me a comment, tweet or email. And no matter who you plan on voting for, please just get out there and use your vote. It's a privilege that so many around the world are not afforded.