There’s a danger in devaluing the point of voting

COMMENT: How many voters will mark their ballot papers for one party or another with any real conviction come May?

Thursday, 17th February

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‘Perhaps what matters most to people going into this election is whether the election itself matters to them’

WHAT matters most to you as we approach the council elections?

More support for the public sector workers? Protecting the planet? Safer streets for women? A detoxified Met Police? Creating cycle lanes; ripping up all the cycle lanes? Or simply getting a response from the housing repairs department?

People are angry and politicised. And yet how many voters will mark their ballot papers for one party or another with any real conviction come May?

Fewer still will leave the polling station with any sense or hope that they have made a tangible difference to their own or other people’s lives.

Every week we report how the frustrations with modern life are bubbling over.

Last month, a woman bike-locked herself to the Town Hall in protest at being routinely fobbed off by the housing repairs department.

This week, Great Ormond Street security guards, fed up with being employed by a private firm unlike their NHS colleagues, have been protesting outside their own main hospital.

A strike picket left the street and briefly occupied the NHS trust’s offices, in an attempt to rattle executives.

The United Voices of the World may not be the best-known union in the country. But it gets a lot of results, and it does so by making a nuisance and often in a very public way.

Sometimes, when official channels have been exhausted, people are left without an option but to storm a board room, sit down in the road, or dig a network of secret tunnels under Euston station.

The world would be a very boring and far less progressive place without direct action.

The Crown Prosecution Service judicial review application feels like a failure to read the room.

On the one hand we have a government that has declared a climate emergency and is still officially the host of COP. On the other, we have authorities intent on silencing and shutting down environmentalists who are trying to get the message out.

In years to come, Extinction Rebellion may come to be thought of in the same vein as the suffragette or civil rights movements.

The XR campaign was borne out of frustration with politicians who were not responding with any urgency to protect the planet.

Perhaps what matters most to people going into this election is whether the election itself matters to them.

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