We asked local writers and residents to give their thoughts on voting in the General Election on 7th May.
Matt Wingett was born in Portsmouth and is a local writer, currently working on a book about Arthur Conan Doyle and Spiritualism.
Daniel Malice is a University of Portsmouth student and a citizen of Southsea and Norfolk.
I haven’t seen a lot of the Portsmouth political scene. I’ve had a few bits of literature telling me to support Flick Drummond but I’m not going to vote for her. Pretty sure she’s for the blue team. I hear UKIP are popular but I’ve seen nothing of their local campaign. I had to look really hard to find out who the local Green reps are, I found their Facebook page eventually but it’s pretty sparse. Whoever the Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates are, they’ve kept themselves hidden from me.
I don’t know if I’m ignorant or just walking around the wrong areas but I’ve seen no campaign posters for any of the teams. There was that one UKIP double billboard near the post office but I think that’s gone now.
So what does that mean for the upcoming election? I have seen nothing and heard very little. Maybe that’s my fault, maybe I’m supposed to be more “politically engaged” or whatever the buzzword is now? I don’t think of myself as being particularly “disillusioned” that other terrible catchphrase.
I no longer identify with the ideological Left. I’m not saying the Greens are off the table for me, I’m not saying UKIP are likely to gain my vote either. I don’t really care about immigration or getting out of Europe, nuclear submarines aren’t high up my list of worries either. Tuition fees being lowered won’t affect me since I graduate in a few weeks. I guess I’ll make my mind up on the day.
Rosy Bremer lives near the pitch at Fratton Park, works in the University Library after having tried and failed to halt the decline and fall of the Public Library Service in Portsmouth.
I thank the Suffragettes who got women the vote and before them I thank the Chartists who wanted the heads of hardworking families to have a say in who governed them. I also have my moments when I think as a true bearded Russian anarchist would, that democracy means choosing your jailer every five years. I’ve been to prison and I guess the Governor does make a difference so all in all an election is probably something to relish.
Nationally the General Election is not a two horse race; there are nags all over the field. I’m in Portsmouth South and it looks like the great Portsmouth South vote-off is between Gerald Vernon-Jackson and Flick Drummond; both of whom have been busy bombarding us with bumph and apparently but not really hand-written letters. The double-barrelled man seems to have the slickest PR machine and has been assiduous in answering my emails on various issues.
I am nearly convinced that I should vote orange (Lib Dem that is-not DUP; I’m in the wrong country for Never Never Never land) because if I vote for someone I really want it will result in the person I really DON’T want having that leathery seat in the alleged Mother Of All Parliaments.
All I want is the candidate who is anti-nuclear, appreciates the benefits of immigration and EU membership, believes in public services, understands what to do to tackle climate change and won’t penalise benefit claimants for the excesses of the bankers.
Not much to ask, is it?
Jenifer Flintoft, Portsmouth & South Downs Palestine Solidarity Campaign
The Meon Valley, where I’m based, is generally considered a shoe-in seat for the Tories. But anger is growing in this area of green fields and pretty villages, and it is being expressed on the Meon Valley Election Hub set up by 38 Degrees. People are worried that the National Park may be violated by fracking. Some residents also worry about the cost of replacing Trident.
There is dissatisfaction with the Tory MP’s voting record, too. He voted for:
* Raising tuition fees to £9000
* NHS privatisation
* Bedroom tax
* Tax breaks for millionaires
And he voted against:
* Energy price freeze
* Mansion tax to fund NHS.
But most of all residents are concerned about the NHS. A doctor’s comment: ‘I am an NHS consultant. The NHS is NOT safe in this government’s hands’ sparked a debate in which residents expressed their fears that the NHS will become increasingly privatised, and anger that, after a working life paying tax and National Insurance, older people may be obliged to start paying out for routine procedures such as cataract operations.
There is a clear desire for change in this constituency, and considerable frustration at the difficulty of changing anything by voting, because of our undemocratic first-past-the-post system. Some contributors argue for proportional representation, a view l agree with.
I myself shall vote Green, as I find both the Tory and Labour parties ideologically bankrupt, & there is no socialist alternative such as TUSC here.
Paris Pilling, lifelong Portsmouth resident and a student at Winchester University
Let me start off by admitting that I will not be voting this year, or in any other year until there is someone standing for office that has the people’s best interests at heart.
Watching various debates over the last few weeks, all I saw was political one-upmanship. Watching the debates has been like being back in the school playground. All the politicians are happy to point the finger of blame at others and say I can do a better job, or as Nigel Farage prefers, pin the blame on immigrants, but over the last 30-40 years it’s always the same: we vote in someone who says they can change things and then they screw the country up. If it wasn’t Margaret Thatcher in the 80s privatising anything that moved, Labour’s failure to deliver a truly left and progressive agenda in the 2000s, or the student fees’ rise under the current coalition government, it’s always something.
I’m a mature student and feel that I have more important things to worry about, like making sure I get top grades on my degree so that I can go on to do a masters and get a better job than I’m guaranteed right now.
It’s not that I’m anti voting, it’s that I don’t trust politicians. They make promises they have no intention of keeping. How can you vote when there is no one you feel represents you?
Tony Brown, writer and Chair of the Southsea Association
In Britain we enjoy the right to vote to select our government and to vote to kick them out if they make a poor job of it. And that’s what we will do on May 7th. Or, at least that’s what some of us will do; almost a third of those entitled to vote will abstain and very likely spend the next few years braying like donkeys about the government that was elected. These malcontents ought to reflect on the privilege that they take for granted. Swiss women had to wait until the 1970s for their chance to vote while for the people of Zimbabwe, North Korea and China, democracy doesn’t exist.
Now I sympathize with those who struggle to find a candidate or party that appeals. But that’s no excuse for sitting on your hands and not exercising your right to vote. It’s important to gaze into the woolly gloominess just beyond the flamboyant distractions provided by UKIP or by Nicola Sturgeon hawking the SNP around the hustings striving to be a power-broker. What you have to do is to examine what each candidate says and look for one who says something you feel strongly about or can at least agree with no matter how small it may be. Then, on May 6th, spend a few minutes at the polling booth voting for that candidate.
It’s not perfect, but it’s democracy. Be glad of it.