Why I will always feel excited about using my vote

3 May

It was the morning of the Mayoral/London Assembly elections. I was nudging my eight-year-old daughter to wake up. I was flexing my polling card, eager to catch the polls first thing. She was catching my excitement about voting, but not really understanding why.

She said, while getting dressed in hurry so I could get out to the polling booth before work: “So, mummy: do you have to vote?”

Feel the pull of the poll?

How do I, a professional woman who makes all the choices over her entire life – and who has grown up against a backdrop of increasingly powerful female contribution to business and the economy – meant to say to a little girl who has only known that she can do anything the boys can do, and better?

While I do, of course, teach her that it’s about being true to yourself – not competing on any gender level – I did find myself faced with her facial expressions of derision, disbelief and dismay that there could have been a time when women weren’t equal to men and they had to resort to chaining themselves to railings and fighting to get the vote .

I tried to keep my explanation light and story-like, but it was probably a bit too much for a little girl to bear before breakfast. Plus, the morning isn’t the time for fairytales.

However, reflecting on this later, I realised just how excited I do get on polling days. I feel a sense of my responsibility, of all the generations of women who have dedicated their lives to make their point and o something better. Women who have pushed their hearts out to achieve what they believe in, and are willing to give their souls to achieve it.

That’s on the philosophical/historical level. On the real/emotional level, however, I always feel an excitement buzzing through my bones when I go to vote. Part of me is curious about the people who turn 18 this year and who get to vote for the first time. How exciting – if they can be bothered to tear themselves away from their iPads or Messengers or earphones – to place their little pencil crosses on pastel-coloured form and slot them anonymously into a little black box. I find it exhilarating to make those little marks, and I’m sure I have an endorphine power surge for hours afterwards.

The thing is, I take my responsibility, and the destiny of London, seriously. In this, I am happy to be a role model to all the girls and women today who don’t think their vote counts. I’m not interested in who anyone votes for. Just that they take the time to have their say, and do something about it if things don’t turn out as promised.

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