Today, Sunday 18 April, marks 4,000 days since the 2010 general election, and Friday will mark 4,000 days of uninterrupted Conservative government in this country.
It’s worth reminding ourselves just how different life was on 6 May 2010...
Barack Obama had only recently completed his first year in the White House, iPads were not yet available in the UK, Instagram did not exist outside the minds of its creators, Boris Johnson was only two years into his eight-year stint as the bumbling Mayor of London and hadn’t yet managed to get himself stuck on a zip-line high above the capital, and the proud buzz of the London 2012 Olympic games was still more than two years off. That feels like a long time ago, right?
Whatever Boris Johnson would have you believe, the Conservative Party has been in the driving seat for a very long time indeed and it’s entirely reasonable to hold them to account for what we see around us.
Whether you are thinking about the austerity agenda, or Brexit, or the decimation of local authority services, the failure to deal with the fallout of the Grenfell disaster, the failure to maintain adequate stockpiles of equipment for use in national emergencies, the billions of pounds wasted on Test-and-Trace, the stench of corruption that surrounds many of the contracts awarded during the COVID crisis, or the blatant misuse of public office for personal enrichment highlighted by the Greensill scandal, you know who was in power when it happened and you know it is your democratic right to cast judgement on them.
As local elections approach, we all have a chance to send a clear message to those in power. National change more often than not begins at the local level, so don’t let anyone tell you that local elections don’t matter. By taking the time now to research, understand and question the policy platforms of those seeking to represent us, we can use our votes to ensure that our elected officials embody the values we want to see colour our society.
We know that democracy decays when it is not actively maintained, that a healthy democracy requires an electorate that is engaged with the process, educated on the issues, and enthusiastic about holding those in power to account. That’s why we are asking you to draw up a quick ‘plan to vote’ ahead of the upcoming elections. Whether you intend to vote by post or in person, take a few minutes now to think about the logistics involved in making your voice heard. Then, invite your friends to do the same.
In uncertain times, it is difficult to predict what challenges the future might hold but one thing is certain: we must fight to maintain a healthy democracy so that our voices can never be ignored when key decisions are being made that shape all our futures.