My opinion by Mercury reader Gemma Richmond: Don’t take your hard-won rights for granted

Gemma Richmond
Gemma Richmond

This week I’m afraid I’m going to get all serious and political. Sorry.

Actually, no. I’m not sorry. I’m sure you can guess that this bee has buzzed into my bonnet from the recent local elections. I was amazed and quite shocked at the sheer number of people I know who didn’t vote, mostly because they ‘couldn’t be bothered’, or ‘didn’t see the point’. Yes, I agree, ‘the point’ can sometimes be difficult to decipher in amongst all the waffle and baffling statistics. But, there definitely is one.

I don’t want to start sounding like one of those scary feminist types – ‘women fought and died for the vote’, etc. But the fact remains that they genuinely did. As did quite a few men. The Victorian-era, ‘Chartism’ movement usually gets forgotten about, and I have to admit that studying it wasn’t one of the most exciting periods of my school life.

It’s important to note, however, that the Chartists were fighting and petitioning for the vote for all working-class men over the age of 21, something which now gets taken for granted. In the 1800s, only the upper middle classes had a say. So it really does annoy me when people don’t use their vote, even if they don’t really care about the outcome.

Then at least you’ve got the right to have a good moan if they don’t do what they promised, or wash your hands of it if you ‘didn’t vote for that lot anyway’.