27 MARCH 2015

The clock is counting down to the General Election on Thursday 7 May. This is likely to be the most closely fought election for a generation.

Not many people have been willing to predict the outcome; I certainly think it is too close to call right now.

One thing I am certain of is that by the time it comes to 7 May many of us will be fed up to the back teeth with the whole thing. But no matter how irritated we are by the party political broadcasts, bored by the TV debates, or frankly perplexed by some of the ‘innovative’ ways the media use to cover it, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t vote. In the last election, nine million women who could have voted, didn’t. Don’t be one of them this time around.

Universal suffrage is a right that we have had in this country since 1928 and it is easy to take it for granted. But we need to remember that it was a hard fought battle in which good women and men lost their lives.

I am South African. I couldn’t vote in elections there until 1994, both my parents were imprisoned for the part they played in the struggle to bring freedom, including the right to vote, to South Africa. My father escaped execution; many of his fellow fighters did not.  And today good women and men across the world are still fighting and dying in order to win the right to vote. We owe it to all these people to vote. Even if you spoil your ballot paper, you have exercised your right.

Simply put, if you don’t take part, you don’t get a say. If you care about schools in your neighbourhood, your local GP surgery and the future of your local hospital, the state of the roads and public transport in your area, how much you pay for energy, the cost of living and your salary, let alone disparities that exist between men and women in power, earnings and influence, you need to make sure your voice gets heard. In this election probably more than any other, in hundreds of constituencies, comparatively few votes are likely to determine the winner. So your vote really will count.

It is very easy. You just have to put an X in the box. You can do it in person or by postal ballot. But you do need to register. Fortunately, that is easy too but the deadline for this – 20 April – is fast approaching. Just go to: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote


Tanya Joseph is a Fawcett trustee and Director of Business Partnerships, Sport England