An old adage says that politics and religion are not topics for polite conversation – it is so true. Both topics are entrenched in passionate, divergent views.
The full results of the General Election have not yet been announced, but at the time of writing (10am ish on May 8), it seems predictions of a closely run race were wrong. There has been a lot of disappointment about the likely result on Twitter and Facebook this morning.
My own political views are left-leaning. I believe in a fair society. My personal view is that the Coalition Government did not provide that, and a Conservative government will not provide that.
I voted according to my beliefs, as is my democratic right. I haven’t expanded on them here because it would be a very long post indeed – and that’s not the point of my post.
This morning, I exclaimed my disappointment at the likely result, and on Facebook wondered whether people care about the NHS, and anyone who doesn’t have the benefit of money or privilege to support them. There are people who agree with me, and people who don’t.
The comment was a general one expressing disbelief, and concern for the next five years. It is my democratic right to do so. While I do not need to explain myself, it was as much about media bias and propaganda, a screwed up electoral system that no longer meets the needs of today’s party politics, and all the people who could not be bothered to vote as it was about people who voted a certain way.
While it was not intended as a personal comment with any implication that people who voted a certain way are bad people, voting is a personal decision and people may take comments personally. I stand by my beliefs, but the point of my ramblings this morning is to be respectful about other people’s political opinions.
We need passion, and we need people to stick their heads above parapets to make change happen. We need those people on all sides, from all parties, from all viewpoints, from all political persuasions. We need people who are not afraid to speak up, and speak out.
Today is the 70th anniversary of VE Day. Seventy years ago today, Victory in Europe was celebrated. Occupied Europe was freed from the clutches of Nazi Germany, and the UK was able to continue being a free democracy thanks to the sacrifice of countless men and women.
I have seen comments on Twitter from people who voted more towards the right say they feel reluctant or intimidated to talk about their political beliefs because of the backlash they may receive. In any context that is sad, but the fact that there are people feeling unable to express their democratic right of freedom of speech is particularly poignant today. I don’t agree with their political views, but I do agree with their right to be able to express them (with the usual caveats about not being personal, or abusive – and provided they used their democratic right to vote).
It doesn’t matter how you voted. We probably won’t agree with each other, just as we probably don’t agree on many things. There will be many passionate emotions expressed today on social media, the traditional media, in workplaces, shops – and everywhere. We should celebrate our democratic right to freedom of expression without fear of oppression.
What matters most is that you voted. And if you didn’t – shame on you.