Please Vote: The BrightonMums.com GE2017 Manifesto

So for better or worse, on June 8 we have a general election. Whether we agree with it or not, we all now have a responsibility to our fellow citizens, so please vote. This is the BrightonMums.com manifesto.

Vote. Vote. Vote. Vote.

2Every vote gets counted, every vote gets recognised. What we need is turnout to send a message to ALL politicians on all sides. This is a chance to show the establishment we are listening and watching everything they are doing.

I personally have a hard time with any female who decides not to take a trip to the ballot booth on polling day (or do their postal vote). Campaigners took risk and brave strides to get us the vote. Get up and put the tick in the box (or protest vote with the ballot paper if you feel you have no real option) for every female on the planet who do not enjoy the same equalities as we do in the UK.  Yes they exist.

If you live in a safe seat. Vote. If every disgruntled voter came to the polls and decreased a majority, it would be news. Likewise, every vote for the candidate of your choice would boost their future campaigning efforts and strategy. Tell them you liked their policies by voting for them. It may be in your safe seat area, the party you’d like to vote for, doesn’t even field a candidate. But that doesn’t mean you can’t get up and get to the polls, find an alternative or make a protest vote.

You have until 22 May to register to vote here.

Politics is everyone’s responsibility.

Voting is one of the most important things you do as a citizen. Find all your constituency candidates on-line. Yes, all of them. Look at their voting record at Public Whip – note the times they rebelled against their party or didn’t vote (could have been a strategic abstention).

Look at manifestos. I know, I know. They’re stupidly long some of them, as if they’re purposefully complicated to baffle the electorate. But it’s our duty to spend some time and wade through. And don’t let the political spin-masters win on that one. Don’t give up.

Talk to your candidates if you can, go and see them speak. Go on YouTube and find their speeches. Go on their website, find their blogs, copies of their speeches.

Engage the young voters.

They repeatedly steer clear of the polling booths and are repeatedly forgotten by policy-makers. Tuition feesstudent loan terms, zero hours contracts – our young people face many challenges; unemployment, challenges to get on the housing ladder or even rent a decent home.

If you’re a baby-boomer, it’s quite possible you’re enjoying every benefit of post-war welfare and economy aspirations. But it goes downhill from your age group. Your children, your grandchildren, nieces, nephews, employees, colleagues. Talk. To. Them. What are their main concerns? What do they struggle with?

It’s encouraging to see the number of young people who have registered to vote since the GE was announced but we need more.

Vote for society as a whole.

Think about the kind of society you would like to live in and find the candidate you feel is genuinely committed to that. Vote with compassion and empathy. Think about social justice and equality. Don’t make assumptions about reports of things that are happening or not happening, just because you haven’t personally come across it yourself. Just because you’ve never personally heard of anyone using a food bank, doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Equally, consider the business leaders and employers of this country – are they all money-grabbing greedy folk? Talk to friends who have had struggles and find out, what policies could have helped them. Cutting taxes to stimulate the economy or increased welfare? Private healthcare or an always free-at-the-point-of-use system? Are you brave enough to put your judgements and party allegiances aside?

Read several news sources: make up your own mind.

The news doesn’t deliver the news anymore. We have to accept that. Recently The Sun published a front page with the headline ‘Corbyn: Abolish the Army’. Outrageous right? I mean how ridiculously naive to have a policy like that in the world right now.  Except….it’s not a policy at all. It’s a headline derived from a comment Corbyn made about peace, “Wouldn’t it be wonderful if every politician around the world instead of taking pride in the size of their armed forces did what the people of Costa Rica have done and abolished the army and took pride in the fact that they don’t have an army, and that their country is near the top of the global peace index. Surely that is the way we should be going forward.”

It’s not just the tabloids who practice ‘creative spin’. Left online publications like The Canary, play The Sun at their own game, twisting headlines and facts. Be careful what you share online. And, as media consumer, how do you feel being fooled in this way? Have confidence in your own ability to make your own mind up! Rebel against opportunist journalism by consuming media from various sources, not just one. 3

Remember that journalists are paid for their opinions and some, to spin them a certain way for their billionaire owners, in order to create sensational headline and keep selling ad space. Print journalism is in decline, due to the rise of on-line news and advertising opportunities.

Facebook is not the place for political balance.

I don’t particularly subscribe to the social media echo chamber theory being the downfall of politics, in fact some studies showed an increased awareness and engagement because of material shared by friends. However, I think we should all admit, that if we’re getting our political views solely from Facebook, then something is wrong. Mainly because while we confidently surround ourselves with others harbouring similar political convictions, the art of debate is lost. If you find yourself insulting someone personally, an ad hominem attack, then step away from the keyboard.

Look for facts as hard as you can.

I like fullfact.org and They Work For You. If someone spouts a statistic but doesn’t back up the source, then question it. Remember some reports and figures are spun in a way that the people funding the research would be pleased with. If you’re basing your whole vote on these statistics, consider whether you’re being misled or not. Ask yourself whether the issues you think are the biggest facing our country, are actually the ones having the most impact on society as a whole.

Vote on your own terms. Not theirs.

If you have done all the above, considered all your options, put your party judgements and habits aside to take a peak around you then I believe you have served your country well.

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