“We do not truly live in a free and self-governing democracy if we as citizens cannot elect our leaders – whether that is because of voter suppression, or because we are not fully able to access the true facts in order to make informed decisions on who we will place that little X next to on our ballot papers”.
Almost three years ago, people around the world observed the news that the United Kingdom would be leaving the European Union, after 51.89% of the population voted to do so. This rounded 52:49 voting ratio is repeatedly quoted by MPs, journalists, and citizens; particularly the Brexiteers among us. But this is not entirely accurate.
The UK’s Electoral Commission reported that the actual turnout for the Referendum was 72.21%. This means that more than 12.9 million registered voters did not submit their ballot paper or have their vote recognised.
12.9 million people living in the world’s oldest democracy and not exercising their guaranteed right to participate in, quite possibly, the most important vote of their lifetime. [Note: voter turnout for the referendum was actually far higher than in General Elections and European Parliament elections. The most recent General Election in 2017 had a voter turnout of 68.8% and the 2019 European Parliament elections recently had a turnout of just 50.5% – which incidentally was the highest it has been in 20 years!]
With a distinct uncertainty as to whether the UK will indeed ‘Brexit’, and large-scale protests and campaigns advocating for a do-over, there is a seemingly endless number of articles asking “what if” the population were to vote again? And, far more democratic a question: “what if” the full population actually did vote in the first instance?
As I speak to my friends and family; read tweets and other social media posts, it becomes clear that the reasons why people don’t vote is not that they are ignorant. It’s not that they don’t appreciate how lucky they are to live in a fully democratic society, nor that they don’t care. It’s not that they don’t pay attention to politics, nor that they aren’t provided with political information. It is that they are befogged.
The sheer amount of articles, memes, videos, tweets, notifications, comments – whether they are even truthful – is enough to overwhelm even the brightest of those around me, and even more so if they are political spin, disinformation or “fake news”. Day after day, we directly and indirectly consume political news – and nonsense – from every single direction until our heads are spinning and we eventually resign ourselves to the fact that we don’t *quite* know. Or if you’re anything like those of my friends and family I mentioned earlier, you *really* don’t know and therefore can’t even begin to consider voting in case you inadvertantly vote in the racist candidate who wants to remove your right to free speech, ban abortions and grab women by the pussy… Or all four.
All jokes aside, I am overwhelmingly in favour of every citizen being able to be part of the decision as to who gets to lead their country and, furthermore, in which direction it will go. Whether we like it or not, politics is the backbone of our lives and society, and we do not truly live in a free and self-governing democracy if we as citizens cannot or do not elect our leaders; whether that is because of suppression, or because we are not fully able to access the true facts from the fiction in order to make informed decisions on who we will place that little X next to on our ballot papers.
And so, this is where I introduce LiteralPolitical 👋
Starting small but aiming big, LiteralPolitical will provide you with just that: politics, literally. Speaking just to the facts on current political issues in our Where in the World sections so that you, the readers, can drown out the background noise and only have the truth. LiteralPolitical will be non-partisan, unbiased and completely void of bullshit.
We will also be introducing opinion pieces in the Opinion section which will come later this year. [Note: these will be distinctly separate so as to keep the noise out when you just want the facts].
So now that you know us, we welcome you to join us on our journey to a more Literal Political sphere. You can sign up below to be notified when we publish new posts each week, and follow us on Twitter for even more.
See you soon!