On the 7th. May this year I made my democratic statement by voting in the General Election, the result of which is neither here or there for the sake of this article.
I live in a once Village now attached to the end of a Town, the village life disappearing with the closure of a few Shops which once served the local community.
It has however kept a few little pockets of the old English feel. Rather than going by car to make the one mile journey, I thought I’d walk and set off up the semi residential Lane past modernized Cottages with tarmacked driveways where once was a front Garden finally getting to the Church Hall which has been the venue for voting for the last 100 years or so.
A special day ?
I remembered right back to the 1950′s when I would go with my Mother to vote, we’d walk along the Lanes to the Village School passing a Party Poster in almost every Garden, saying Good Morning to everyone you passed and upon arrival see a flurry of locals, all dressed up for the occasion with many standing around having a chat.
Being the 1950′s you’d stand there and say nothing, speak when you’re spoken to was the etiquette of that time.
All in all it was a special day, a five yearly ‘not the norm’ and the next two days or so were spent listening intensely to the BBC Home Service for the results.
In the 1950′s the turnout averaged around the 78% mark, in 2001 it was 59% then rising a bit to 66% this time.
Out of a possible 46,425,000 people on the electoral roll in the UK, this year only 30,685,000 bothered.
Maybe back then the Candidates for Prime Minister came over more as a trusting father figure, someone who was approachable and could talk to. Nowadays it’s about spin, being seen walking around Factories with your sleeves up, talking to children in Schools, it’s and advertisement campaign, not a Political one. Get a few Celebs on board and you’ve a better chance.
Although back then we had no Internet, no Mobile Phones, Westminster seemed not far away, now it seems it’s on another distant Planet.
Sure we have to progress in technology and sure, for many other reasons, Westminster is more shut off from easy access, but sometimes maybe we have to look back and see when a vote was important and Election Day was a special one.
Maybe the Polling Station in a Graveyard is where the Electoral System is going !!
One last thing. In the 1950′s and 1960′s I lived near to Sir Winston Churchill’s home at Chartwell in Kent. One day, around the late 50′s and after Churchill had retired, my Grandfather drove us up past the House. We stopped and got out. I walked along the fence, no Security Guards, no Alarms, and peeped through a gap in the hedge.
To my surprise I heard “Hello young man”, I looked up and there was the man himself pottering around in a Summer Cotton Jacket and his recognizable white hat.
I uttered “Hello” and walked away.
A memory to cling on to, one of the greatest men in the 20th. Century had spoken to me and the more I think about it in my more senior years, the more I’m proud of it and proud also of the fact that I have a right to vote whether it be a wasted one or not!