>I’ve avoided writing about politics on my blog, even with the general election looming, but I thought as the next British Mummy Bloggers carnival being held over at Mummy do that! has a political theme to it, I’d give it a go.
I’ve probably never written about politics, or even discussed it with friends, because I don’t really understand it in all honesty. Yes I can huff and puff with the best of them on a specific topic, but the broader world of politics escapes me. Here we have a lot of unfortunate looking men in poorly tailored suits, bleeting on about this or that. Which inturn gets slagged off by their opponent in the inevitable slanging match that ensues, which is just about when my eyes glaze over and I just mentally switch off. It’s this school playground behaviour that really grates on me and detracts from what I’m sure are the important messages they are actually trying to get across.
I have to admit that in my (almost) 29 years I have voted just once, and that was only because I’d turned 18 by then and it was a novelty. I dread to think what the suffragettes would think of me, so callously undermining everything they fought for all those years ago. I can only explain this by saying that I don’t feel some overwhelming urge to vote, which is probably because I don’t agree with the contents of the party’s manifestos that I hear banded about on the news, or because I simply don’t take the time to discover what the party’s in question actually stand for. Who actually reads those things in their entirety anyway? I could think of nothing worse! In my early 20’s I didn’t care enough about politics to vote, then when I became more interested in it I was completely put off by my time working in local government. We were told we had to remain politically neutral, while being used as pawns in the local councillors petty games. I started working for the council while it was under Labour, they had won a shock election a year or so previously in what was a predominantly conservative borough. The leader of the council at that time was quite simply inspirational and had his finger well and truly on the pulse. All that came crashing down when a conservative victory was had at the following election and in came a new leader, who didn’t measure up to his predecessor. A holier than thou attitude and in need of a personality transplant, he single handedly brought the entire team I was working for to it’s knees, thankfully I had a lucky escape when I opted to take voluntary redundancy. This man went on to become the right hand man to the Mayor of London and was later flushed out as an expenses cheat! This I guess is what has put me off voting since that first obligatory vote I made, not to mention the constant back biting I witness on almost a weekly basis during meetings through work, by so called respected councillors.
So with my postal vote reminder arriving yesterday, telling me my voting card will be with me 8 days before the election, I am left deciding whether I will vote at all and who I will actually vote for if I do. I suppose the reason that I’m not sure if I will vote is that if all goes well I will be leaving our “green and pleasant land” for pastures new and I’m not sure if that really gives me the right to vote on what happens in a country that will no longer be my home. I’m also not sure if I actually agree with enough of the points in the manifestos presented by the three main party’s to actually warrant voting for one of them, even after watching the leaders debate on ITV the other night. I looked at the telegraph online earlier and read their brief precis of each of the manifestos and I’m still none the wiser as to vote for.
For example the conservatives will implement a one year public sector pay freeze in 2011 and the Lib Dems want to set a £400 pay rise cap for public sector workers. I don’t agree with either of these. Firstly if you implement pay freezes or pay rise caps, why not ensure that it’s across the public, private and voluntary sectors. Obviously the public sector is easier for them to control, but why should workers in that sector be the only ones to suffer? I work in the voluntary sector but the money for our wages comes from the government and the local council. We haven’t had a pay rise this year and it’s looking like next year will be out too. I’d personally rather not have a pay rise if it means keeping my job, but with the cost of living increasing and no wage increase, it just doesn;t add up. The £400 pay rise cap grates me too, I’m assuming that the top bosses would get the £400 pay rises, so what would I get? It would be that pathetic an amount it’s not even worth thinking about!
Then there’s tax credits. Labour wants to up tax credits for people with toddlers by £4 a week from 2012 – I don’t get it! Why toddlers? Why not babies, primary school kids and teenagers too? The conservatives want to stop tax credits for families with over £50k pa income. Now I’m not sure what a family on over £50k would get tax credit wise, but I’m assuming if both parents work, tax credits would help towards expensive childcare costs and is therefore much needed to ensure that both parents can continue to work. And the Lib Dems state they want to restrict tax credits whatever that means!
Then there’s a few things I do agree with (shocking I know!). Labour wants to ensure more help for parents to balance work and family life, with a “fathers month” of flexible paid leave. Now if this refers to paternity leave on full pay then that would be a great idea. With mum off on 90% of her earnings for 6 weeks and the remaining maternity pay at a greatly reduced amount, it must be a great strain financially for dads to take 2 weeks off on reduced wages. So this one is a hit with me, that is of course if it is a month off on full pay! (wishful thinking perhaps)
The Lib Dems come in with improving access to counselling for people with mental health issues. This one is a winner for me. I work with people with mental health problems and I know only to well how hard it is to get counselling. When I had post natal depression I was referred for counselling, two years later I received a letter asking if I still wanted to remain on their waiting list!
Mother & Baby magazine conducted a poll on what would win the much hyped “mummy vote” and the top ten are:
1. 5000 more midwives trained (full time or equivalent)
2. Real choice in how and where you give birth
3. Free car parking outside labour units
4. One to one breastfeeding help in hospital and at home
5. Three cycles of IVF, regardless of where you live
6. Six week medical and psychological check up
7. Two weeks paternity leave on full pay
8. Tax breaks for grandparents who help with childcare
9. Subsidised nurseries for children under three
10. Free fruit and milk for under fives at nursery
Obviously this centres on young children and in no way do I believe that these pledges alone would win the “mummy vote”, but it goes some way to show what is important to new mums.
The election will fall the day after I go on holiday to Spain for a week and I was at first glad to be away when it happened, but as the area I’m going to has a large ex pat community, I’ll bet the headlines will be screaming at me from the news stands! Only time will tell if I do decide to vote, or who for I guess.
How do you decide who to vote for and are you planning on voting in the forthcoming election?