© 2017 by Jenny Stallard.

39 is fine: Voting… quietly

June 8, 2017

 

My Grandad always used to say that you shouldn't tell anyone what you earn or who you vote for.

 

When I was in my twenties and even thirties, I disagreed with him. No! We must be transparent! We must share, so we all know what’s going on. Why be ashamed of your wage? Why not be proud of your political stance? 

 

But as I get older I am tending to see his point. 

 

Talking about money - salary in particular - with friends can breed negativity and resentment. And I think politics is the same. My vote is cast and where I put that cross is between me and the ballot box.

 

I actually sent my postal vote two days ago. (I do postal as I needed to vote while I was at Glastonbury for the Brexit vote). Today my vote will be opened but the only people who'll see it are me and the returning officer. I won't change my Facebook picture to a certain party's colours, or tell anyone that I've voted a certain way.

 

The only thing I've done on social media is highlight #dogsatpollingstations

 

Hence the pic. That’s Wilf. He votes for the chicken shop.

 

The dogs’ silent faces are so relatable, not just because I am a keen dog-botherer, but because they are just there, part of the vote, but not screaming about their choice, not barking their colours to the fence. Dogs at polling stations is a moment of calm, of quite Britishness among the clatter of the campaigns, I think,

 

And boy has it been clatter. This has perhaps been one of the most vocal elections of my lifetime.

 

My Facebook feed is full of posts about support for (mainly) Corbyn and Labour. Clearly not many of my friends are Conservative voters, and if they are they’re staying quiet.

 

Does that mean I’m Tory? Not telling. Silence doesn’t mean I’m voting differently to my friends. It means I’m choosing not to talk about it.

 

But I don't post anything political on Facebook. I don't like to. Just like I shy away from talking politics at the dinner table with friends, or in the office with colleagues. It makes me nervous, and I don't feel that I could change a fellow voter's mind.

 

I might come across as confrontational to some, in life, but I'm much more of a last minute arguer, and don't like to get into debates. They make me feel awkward.

 

If not saying who I've voted for means people might assume I've voted for the party they don't like, then so be it.

 

I don't want to discuss the why's and wherefore's of my choice of vote with everyone I know - especially not people who will now have voted. What good will telling them make now? It just entices a flustered debate.

 

I know so many people are so, so passionate, and that’s why they’re vocal. Being silent doesn’t mean I’m not passionate on some issues.

 

Should I stand up for my values, put my views out there and on the line? Should I be shouting for the party I supported? Hmmm, not sure that political campaigning life is for me. 

 

I’d be interested to know how many of those who shout on social media actually also go to rallies, or marches, or leafleted for their MP. That’s what it’s about really, I think, those actions, not just your status to friends who probably have the same views.

 

And I know I have some friends who do, and to them I say BRAVO!

 

I admit I am nervous to talk politics because I am not hugely well versed in it. It's not my specialist subject. But of course I feel strongly enough to tick the box and use my right to vote.

 

I spent over a week staring at that postal vote. I thought long and hard, nervously ticking that box, feeling like the weight of all our futures hangs in the balance.

 

And now it's done, there's no debating to be done, I can't uncross it. So why put out there what I ticked? Why get into an argument, or be slapped down for my choice? Nope, I want to keep it quiet, thanks.

 

And I am sure many of you will do the same. I can't be alone in wanting to be private, can I? 

 

And I will know if my vote counted the way I wanted it to, when the results come in. I don't want to be chastised either way for my vote, so I shall keep it close to my (nearly 40 year old) chest.

 

 

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