Hilary Benn MP: Why you should vote in May elections

Vote 2015 portraitToday (5 February 2015) is National Voter Registration Day. With changes to the way you register to vote it is feared that many thousands will be denied a vote in May. South Leeds Life does not support any political party, but we do believe everyone should use their vote and we will be running stories about how you can make sure you are on the register.

First we publish an article by our MP, Hilary Benn:

Hilary_Benn copyRecently, I found myself talking to a group of teachers about what being an MP is all about. They had lots of questions, and one – which started a lively discussion – was about why some people vote and others don’t.

I think it’s a really important issue because it says something about the kind of society we are. Why do some people say that they aren’t interested, or wonder what the point of it all is, or are just downright cynical about politics?

There are lots of reasons why some people feel this way, including alienation, taking things for granted, feeling unhappy about what’s happening or wanting something different from politics. And yet, the chance to do something about the things that worry us or we’d like to change is a really important right. After all, it was only by struggle over many years that everyone finally won the vote. And what about all those countries where people don’t have the chance to decide by whom and how they are governed?

There’s also the argument about participation; the kind we read about all the time in South Leeds Life. The effort that people who live, work in and love south Leeds put in to making life better. I’m sure that there are things about society that they too don’t like or want to change, but their response is not to wonder whether it’s worth it; it is to get stuck in, help others and make things happen.

Just look around at our community. How was Hillside, when it ceased to be a primary school, turned into a wonderful centre for small and growing businesses and a community hub in Beeston ? How was the building across the road – which we used to know as Shaftsbury House and an eyesore at one time – transformed into the most environmentally friendly block of homes in Leeds ? In both cases, because someone had an idea and the ability to inspire others to get involved and see it through.

Or think about what’s changed in our parks. The lovely new visitors’ centre in Middleton Park or the improvements in Cross Flatts Park; both the result of hard graft by Friends groups who saw it as their responsibility to make things better.

The Middleton Railway – the world’s oldest working railway – run entirely by volunteers. The many organisations supporting the elderly in Beeston and Holbeck, Belle Isle, and Middleton. The vibrant hub that is Leeds Health for All. The determination of the new committee to keep the Holbeck Working Men’s Club – the oldest surviving club in the country – going. And a club of a different type – The Hunslet Club – where every day of the week you will find a hive of activity involving children, mums and dads.

My point is that in life we get out what we put in, and the things we are proudest of are those that we have put most of ourselves into. And if that’s true about how we build a better community – and it is – then it’s also true about how we build a better country.
So let’s encourage each other to take part in the democratic process. And if you know someone who’s not yet on the electoral register, then it’s easy to register at: www.gov.uk/register-to-vote

Voting may only involve a pencil and a piece of paper, but put those together with ideas and you really can change things.

4 Replies to “Hilary Benn MP: Why you should vote in May elections”

  1. I agree in principle that people should vote, however I think a significant % of the public have been turned off politics, both at a local and national level.


    Because people feel it doesn’t matter how they vote, nothing ever changes. Either that or the seat they live in – either a ward or constituency, is perceived to be so safe, the incumbents have such large majorities that their vote won’t make any difference.

    This is even true in by-elections, where the governing party call the by-election and issue the postal votes so quickly that the residents don’t get to see election addresses or meet the canvassers of the other parties.

    I mean, is there any real difference between the three so-called main parties, other than the colour of their rosettes?

    Labour criticise the Tories for supposedly destroying the NHS, when it was Labour who greatly expanded the PFI deals which have left the taxpayer with an enormous bill to pay – when it’d have been much cheaper to raise funds on the bond markets.

    The Tories criticise Labour for ruining the public finances and claim they are ‘paying our debts’ – so why are we still running a deficit of £90bn+ p/a, and throwing money into the EU and foreign aid like there’s no tomorrow?

    Politics needs change – be it UKIP, the Greens, even TUSC. Just something, to give people the motivation to go out and mark their X on a piece of paper.

    The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting a different result. Therefore – DON’T vote Labour, DON’T vote Conservative, DON’T vote Lib Dem. You’ll only be let down and lied to if you do.

  2. So if we vote for UKIP ,more nasty ,thatcher worshiping and Tory than the proper conservatives.Be very afraid if that buffoon farage and his cronies ever get any sort of power
    The Greens ,look at the state of Brighton for results of green policy.
    Or the Socialist workers or what ever they call themselves these days , that we wont be LIED to like the big 3 parties
    Nearly fell of my chair laughing

  3. Dave – I’ve never worshipped Maggie in my life.

    If you want to find out about UKIP or the Greens, why not attend one of their meetings and meet the people behind the scenes, and what they believe in.

    I know it’s much easier to sit back and brand them ‘far right’ or ‘tree hugging lefties’ than actually engage with them, but this is the problem. People just believe what the main parties, and their media friends tell them.

    I’ve got friends in the Green Party, and none of them are ‘tree hugging lefties’ – they’re typically left of centre, ex Labour or Lib Dem members who feel they’ve been abandoned.

    There’s not a cigarette paper between the three main parties, it’s time they were kicked out and some fresh ideas and fresh people elected to parliament.

  4. Well,I’ve sent an 2 e-mails to Hilary and had no reply and here he is moaning about people not wanting to vote.

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