Thursday, 6 May 2010

When votes really count

Today is election day. And this is one election that really has had me glued to the screen. So much so that I've been watching the Campaign Show on BBC instead of Desperate Housewives or Glee. Now that is saying something.

Even my 6 and 4 year old know all about it and can name the leaders of the 3 main parties. My eldest is in favour of Cameron because he had a friend called Cameron once and he thinks he looks like a nice chap. My youngest prefers the Lib Dems on account of the fact that he likes the colour yellow. As for me, I'm one of the undecided but think I know which way I'm going to go, although I'm not utterly convinced by any of them.

However, as much as the UK thinks this is an exciting election, it pales into significance when compared to the first time I could ever vote.

It happed on 17 March 1992. I was at last old enough to vote and I am so pleased that my first vote was for something so incredibly meaningful. This wasn't an election. It was a referendum. The choice was simple: Vote Yes or No.

Voting Yes meant ending apartheid in South Africa. Voting No meant staying with the status quo. Never had the choice been quite so simple. Never had votes counted quite so much. Never had the queues been longer at polling stations. Never had an outcome been quite so important.

I clearly remember that day and being moved to tears that I was getting a say in how the country would change. And change it did. It's hard to believe that Apartheid was such a recent occurrence that I was able to vote to end it (or maybe it simply means I'm old) but the excitement of that voting day will stay with me forever.

While today might not have quite such life altering consequences, it's just as important to go vote. Because voting is a priviledge. So use it.

7 comments:

angelsandurchinsblog said...

Our polling station was packed, and full of knots of neighbours chatting away. Good luck with your Election dinner tonight, and I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on today's result.

Iota said...

Wow, that's a strong memory.

Thanks for your vote! It means a lot.

PantsWithNames said...

I commented here before but it's gone into the great comment heaven in the sky. I so clearly remember that day too. I'd been in South Africa, in Lebowakgoma which is near Pietersburg in the north of the country in 1990/91. The people I'd lived and worked with were so excited about the thought of the end of apartheid and getting a vote.

Pietersburg was the only place in the country that voted no. It was the first time I had really realised that a crowd of people can be wrong, can vote for what isn't right and it was a real eye opener for me.

Home Office Mum said...

angelsand urchins - my thoughts on how the election went was: huh? How utterly underwhelming.

Iota - good luck with the MADS. hope you win!

Pantswithnames - Pietersburg - not a place I'd rush to but amazing that you got to experience that

nappy valley girl said...

Well, we still don't have a result - who'd have thought it?

Award for you over at mine....

Metropolitan Mum said...

There is a photo meme waiting for you to be done:
http://www.metropolitanmum.co.uk/2010/05/spread-the-blogging-love/
I hope you haven't been tagged already...

Home Office Mum said...

nappyvalley and Metropolitan mum - thanks for those. I will now have to create a meme post!