It will be a good 12 years before my eldest child can vote, but already she, along with her younger sister, has come with me to the polling booth on two occasions. The third is looming large on the horizon.
Quite possibly, it is only the children who get a day off due to their school transforming into a polling station who will benefit the most from this election. I certainly don’t see any benefit to it and am getting more depressed by the day at the continuing game of political football being played in the health and education services, and the sheer intransigence borne out by our two largest political parties.
Since the eldest child is one of the beneficiaries of a day off school, I thought I would try and explain to her why, and why it is important to vote. She has visited Stormont and loves a good game of ‘name that politician’ when the posters are up (the Green Party’s Clare Bailey is a favourite), but it was a good deal trickier than I thought to come up with a coherent explanation.
Basically, politics affects everything we do. We see the outcomes of decisions made, or not made, on a daily basis. From the perspective of a (nearly) five-year-old, I tried to explain that the people mummy will vote for will determine what she does in school. That politicians determine if and when she will be able to see a GP to get some special medicine to keep her well. From watching local farmers at work, to getting books out of the library or to seeing a passing police car, these, and more, have a direct bearing on our lives and they are all influenced by public money and legislation.
Anyway, after a couple of minutes she went back to eating her snack, hopefully with the words ‘it’s really really important to vote’ lodged somewhere in her memory so that in the future she will take action and vote for her own future.
Until then, I will vote for the future I want for my children. I really hope that everyone else who is able to vote also takes action.
You have the power to change the status quo, so wield your polling card with pride and vote for what you believe in.