The forthcoming election has made for some interesting conversations in our house. Big daughter is disappointed that she isn’t old enough to vote this time, and small daughter has been asking, “But what about …?” questions which would make any politician think carefully during an interview. (If she’s on Question Time in the future, remember you read about her here first!)
It would be very easy just to pass our viewpoint onto the girls without getting them to look at the whole picture. That’s not an unusual scenario; we all know people who vote for a particular party because their parents did and their grandparents before them. However, we feel that it’s important for our daughters to grow up looking at all the facts, how the different parties are presenting them, and how perceptions of the facts change depending on someone’s own circumstances.
Most importantly, we want to make sure that our girls use the vote that they have. In many countries, women still can’t vote and it’s only 100 years ago that women in this country were risking their lives and even dying so that our daughters could grow up having the right to their say in how the country is run. I hadn’t realised until earlier this year just how badly the Suffragettes were treated by the Government, and how badly they had to behave to get themselves and their cause noticed. Although there still isn’t equality for men and women in the workplace, it’s easy to forget that it was only in our grandparents’ lifetimes that there was even less equality for women in society. We believe that our daughters should acknowledge the Suffragettes’ bravery by using their vote when they have the opportunity to do so.
“What do you do if you don’t like any of the parties?” small daughter has asked.
That’s a very good question, and one which will be a problem for most people this time round, I suspect! Our view is that in the end, you choose the party that you disagree with the least. “So that means you have to know what they’re all saying and not just pick the person you like best,” said big daughter. This is quite true, and sometimes this is made harder by the fact that you might know the politician in your area; they might have worked very hard for your community but the national policy might not be the one you would immediately choose.
“It’s not as easy as you first think, is it?” big daughter concluded. No, it isn’t but that’s why we’ve found it interesting to have these conversations. Big daughter has been able to listen to the arguments and make up her own mind. Perhaps for her, though, as someone whom the policies affect and yet is unable to have her say, she has learned the most important lesson of all. If you don’t vote, you can’t complain.