- Created: Saturday, 20 May 2017 16:36
This article is not intended to persuade you to vote for any particular party but to call for as many people who are eligible to vote to actually do so. Many people say the First Past the Post voting system is not ideal, and that Proportional Representation is a better alternative. But you have to vote for change and make your voice heard, regardless of the voting system.
The Government recently reversed its decision to increase National Insurance for the self-employed following a public backlash; this shows your voice can cause a Government U-turn in a matter of days.
Things don’t stop after the ballot paper has been completed. Politicians should always be held accountable and be ready to justify their voting record. We can’t always get what we want, especially if the party that we voted for, or our favoured candidate, does not win. But having a strong opposition is crucial for a strong democracy – and strong unity is required in times of crisis.
Voter registration and participation levels are horrifically low in the UK, and I am sure all parties want this to change. MPs and Governments can be elected even if they attract only a small percentage of the vote when compared with the actual number of people eligible or registered to vote. This can raise questions about a government’s mandate to lead, and whether it truly represents the views of the nation. But, only the votes that are cast can be counted.
We are now living in age where Social Media is hugely successful at engaging the public and raising awareness: viral campaigns like the ice bucket challenge, breast cancer fundraising initiatives and big corporates making their brands well known, are just a few examples. I regularly read and hear digital companies praising Social Media for raising awareness, getting strong messages out, fighting for just causes, conveying beliefs, being an effective communications channel and achieving very responsive engagement.
I therefore can’t understand why Social Media, which is so popular among the demographic with a low voter participation rate, cannot be used to help reverse political apathy. I recognise there are many other ways to reach out to people, but as someone who runs companies in the IT and Digital Tech sectors, I question why we can’t apply the same principles and conversion rates when it comes to politics.
The Bournemouth and Poole areas were highlighted in the 2017 Tech Nation report, and ranked highly as areas experiencing strong Digital Tech businesses growth. My feeling is that everyone involved in the local Digital Tech industry should be asking candidates their views on what they will do to help the sector and ensure it continues to thrive.
Digital Tech business owners should make staff aware and encourage them to engage and participate in the election process.
I recently decided to see how easy it was to engage with the political parties, so I reached out to the Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates. I only chose those three candidates due to time constraints – there are others, of course.
Initially I made contact via Twitter. I received a lengthy letter from Conor Burns (Conservative). Subsequently, through further discussion via Twitter, I invited David Stokes (Labour) and Jon Nicholas (Liberal Democrats) to come to my office to talk to me and to some of my staff. I want to make clear that I extended that same offer to Conor Burns, but at too short a notice for this article, which is my fault.
I thank all the candidates for the time that they graciously spent with us. It shows that engagement was really quite easy and that they were also willing to respond formally in writing or meeting in person.
I had wanted to write more on their responses and the conversations, but not being a journalist or a particularly good writer I didn’t want to end up with something that did a disservice to the goodwill they showed.
In the end, you can easily meet them on the campaign trail and directly ask your questions.
These are just some of the points raised:
- acknowledgement of the work and investment done to bring the digital economy to where it is now, and the future investments in the Lansdowne regeneration
- education is important to ensure that the local school leavers are equipped to enter the changing business world and opportunities, and that the university acts as a conduit to local businesses
- access to skills and labour is still open and easy, to fill gaps
- ensure the region is an attractive place that workers want to come to
- diversity of business sectors and sizes
- affordable housing for a diverse workforce
- infrastructure investment
Because of the Brexit referendum I felt compelled to do something different this time round, and wanted to use Social Media to reach out and engage. I wanted to do my bit, because I believed in it.
If you have read this to the end, then I hope you will spend a few extra minutes to encourage friends and family, to encourage their friends and family to register and vote in the 2017 General Election. I want people to convert their opinions, comments and hashtags into actual votes on paper.
Deadline for voter registration is midnight Monday 22nd May. Website: Voter Registration