This is it. We’re finally here. I’m so excited. Today’s referendum is only the second that we have ever had in this country (the first was on our membership to the Common Market in 1975). It’s a chance to change the way we vote for a fairer, more representative system.
I love voting. It always gives me a weird little thrill to take my card down to my local station, to stand in the booth with my pencil poised. Even when I know exactly who I’m going to vote for (and I usually do – I also enjoy getting the research done on my decision, and I read every bit of political literature that come through the door) I like to have a short dramatic pause, just to extend the moment. Then I will swoop, marking my preference with a flourish. I will walk out of the station with a straight back, head held high, a smile on my face. “There,” I will tell myself. “I HAVE VOTED.” I can be such a ponce sometimes.
The very fact that I am able to stand and give myself a little moment in a voting booth is the result of hundreds of years of struggle to get power out of the hands of the privileged, monied few and into the grasp of the people of Britain. I always want to recognise and appreciate that fact, and the sacrifices that have been made on my behalf. The simple act of voting, that so many people take for granted and that less and less of us actually manage to get off our arses and complete, is the foundation of our democracy.
Many people these days say that their vote doesn’t matter, that it makes no difference whose box they put their cross into. It’s this argument that makes everyone’s vote less powerful. Not showing up devalues everyone else’s vote. It’s a selfish, dangerous stance. That’s what makes today’s referendum so important. A Yes vote will give us a system where our vote does matter, where extremists can’t get power, where you can vote your conscience instead of tactically.
But that’s my opinion. You have yours. And it’s your inalienable right to express it whichever way you like. Whatever you do, don’t waste it. Be a citizen today. Take a half hour and enjoy the fact that we live in a country where you can freely go into a voting booth and say what you think.
See you at the voting station!
(The excellent photo comes via Andrew Bloch on Twitter).