It’s Right to Vote

Elfins knocking on doors
on Holly Bank Road

Last night Woodcraft Folk Elfins went out to encourage voters to register their vote.  Children can’t vote at the election, so the most our seven to ten year old children can do is to discuss with adults, and to make sure they’re using their right to vote if not for themselves, then for the children whose lives will be most influenced by the election on 8th June.

It was good to hear there were very few who either hadn’t registered to vote, or who said they wouldn’t be voting.  Voting is a right that has been fought for, and influences the kind of decisions that lead to the warfare our young people have all too often paid the ultimate price for – a reminder of which was the memorial to the Tramway workers of Birmingham we also visited on our way to Holly Bank Road.

Elfins at the Birmingham
Tramway workers War memorial

While there have always been people, even politicians, who resist institutions being overborne by the weight of the Democracy, Woodcraft folk have always taken democracy seriously, and indeed, promote and empower children to take decisions including fair representation through voting.  It was interesting to see conversations between young children from Woodcraft Folk and a couple of adults who had been honest enough to admit they would not be voting at all.

Since the First Reform Act of 1832 more people in the UK have progressively been given the opportunity to vote, and occasionally some have had that right taken away.  It has been a fundamental right that groups campaigned for over many centuries.  The Reform Act led to Birmingham’s first representation in the House of Commons, with two MPs

Campaigners like the Chartists and Suffragettes were particularly active in Birmingham.  The right to vote still raises important questions on how we value the opinion (or not) of our citizens – at what age should you be able to vote?   Is a criminal able to vote, and if so, when?

Fight for the Right
from Sima Gonsai on Vimeo

You’d be right to point out that one vote – your vote – makes little (or no) difference to an election result in terms of who is elected.  So why fight for the right to vote? Why vote at all?

There is, of course, the weight of history – our ancestors signing mamouth petitions for Parliament, rallies of thousands, and hundreds of thousands in the case of Gathering of the Unions in Birmingham, sometimes literally risking their lives to gain a vote for us.

The most compelling reason to vote, though, was staring in the faces of those people we visited on Holly Bank Road.  We are collectively responsible for the future of our country.  Voting is an opportunity to exercise that responsibility.  I, for one, can’t look into the eyes of our future – our children – and say I didn’t even vote.

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