I hope you won’t mind, but I thought I’d return from my unofficial blogging hiatus with something a little different to my normal programming. Despite the usually hyper-feminine tone of this blog, many of you will know that by day I actually have a serious job as a political advisor in Westminster.
I’ve been working in politics since 2002, when I first went to Washington to intern for a Senator; my office was on the same marbled corridor as Ted Kennedy and Hilary Clinton, and President Bush was just about to launch a war in Iraq. Although I was always raised to be politically aware and to play an active part in society, in those first months ‘on the inside’, I came to realise first-hand what a very real and direct impact politics has on all of our lives. And for me, there was no turning back from there. I wanted to be a part of of this world; to help others, to make a difference and, in my own small way, to help shape those policies for the better.
On May 7th, the UK goes to the polls to decide who will govern the country for the next five years. Casting your vote is one of the biggest, if not the most significant, decision you will make all year. Yet even though we live in a world where still individuals struggle and sacrifice and die for the right to vote, at the last General Election in 2010, only 54% of women my age voted. That means almost half of my female peers had no say in their democracy and the very laws which shape our nation and daily lives.
But here’s the catch: whether you take an interest in politics or not, it still directly impacts on your life every single day. From the sweeping general issues; the national economy (the strength of which determines how much tax you pay, whether jobs are being created and paying well, how affordable your mortgage is, and so on), the government services we all need to access at some point in our lives (the infrastructure and innovation the government invests in, the schools our future children will go to, the NHS we turn to when we’re sick) and the social policies that define us as a society (ensuring that every individual in our society enjoys equality of rights, how we treat those different to us, how we look after our most needy and vulnerable) to the specific; maternity leave, closing the gender pay gap, reproductive rights, equal marriage, the extent to which the government interferes in our private lives…. you get the picture.
Truthfully — despite what Karl Lagerfeld and his S/S’15 band of Chanel-clad protesters may suggest — it’s certainly not glamorous (and we shouldn’t actually ‘Vote Coco’, obviously), the characters rarely resemble President Bartlet or Sam Seaborn, and most days it feels more like a ruthless grind than a glorious victory. But oh, there is nothing more beautiful than a democracy in which, however briefly, we are all equal participants.
If you do just one thing that matters this week, then have your say at the ballot box. We owe it to the suffragettes and all those who are still yearning for that same right we get to exercise tomorrow.
Love, Miss B xx
Image via Pinterest (from Vogue Korea March 2015)