Friday, October 09, 2009

 U.K. 'COMMON MAN' DID NOT ALWAYS HAVE VOTING RIGHTS

While sharing a lunch time with a business friend, we touched on the subject of the interminable political party conferences we have just experienced.  (See previous post). To my utter surprise,she said her husband was "fed up with the lot of them, they were all the same, equally as bad"... and, she added, he wasn't going to bother to vote for anyone come the general election. This business man is considered to be clear-headed. When he decides he's had enough of all-comers, alarm bells need to be ringing. The lady was also taken aback by this. She felt it was her duty to vote. The voting choices apart, for women, she said, obtaining the franchise of the vote was a hard fought right, one that should not be easily relinquished. Many women make the same observation.

'The common man' did not always have the franchise of a vote in the UK. With limitations, that right was given in 1884. Universal male suffrage was given in 1918 when all men over the age of 21 were given the vote. The current voting age is  eighteen.

It might be that men are not so aware of the history of gaining their right to vote, their enfranchisement in the U.K.  It is by no means the first time I have heard men choosing to not use their voting power. Some make it sound like a positive virtue not to do so. It would be interesting to know the gender breakdown of votes cast in elections. If men were better informed on how they acquired their right to vote, would it make any difference?

7 comments:

MKL said...

Wow, I didn't know this one. Thanks.

ZACL said...

Glad this bit of UK history is of interest to you MKL.

Flighty said...

I can understand his disillusionment and really feel the same way!
I've no doubt that the next voting turnout will be very low and can really see nothing that politicians can do to change that such is the feeling of resentment towards them, and politics in general.
Sadly no I don't think that knowing that would make the slightest difference!

ZACL said...

Hi Mr F,

Thank you for an interesting comment, and one that addresses the question.

Will we therefore, get the politicians we deserve by virtue of mass abstentions, i.e. low turnout?

The reasons for poor turnout is never really assessed, it is in no political party's interest to do so.

I guess we will have to wait and see.

adamantixx said...

i don't think it would make much of a difference if men knew this fact but anyone who doesn't vote can't really retain the right to moan about any forthcoming government...and we all love a good moan about our leaders, don't we!

Vincent said...

I'm astonished at an apparent limpness of political perception in evidence here. For the last few years, I have winced, raged and ranted at what Blair and his successor have been doing to my country. I would say my beloved country but I only realised how beloved it was when I saw the extent to which they were trying to destroy everything that makes it so beloved.

A succession of hopeless Tory leaders made me groan in despair.

Then along came Cameron. I cheer at 90% of what he stands for. As for the other 10% I had the romantic notion of joining the Tory Party so that I could participate and at least tell my own MP that some given policy was wrong. I paid my minimum £25 and got correspondence from them but it never got further than that.

There could not be more difference between the parties. I'm not at all sure about the rank and file Tories, I'd go further and say I have very little in common with them and wouldn't want to go to the social gatherings & fund-raisers they invited me to.

But David Cameron's approach is so unlike Gordon Brown's that I end as I began, with astonishment.

(resisting the temptation to paint a word-picture of the differences themselves; and also making this disclaimer: I am not trying to persuade anyone of anything.)

ZACL said...

Hello Ax,

It is interesting that the local businessman's frustrations are mirrored, (in microcosm) by the responses I have received. I put this post on other fora to test-bed the issue of the 'common man' in the UK using their obtained voting franchise.

The replies either avoid the question, focus on indirect material, and in one case, there's a suggestion of political illiteracy. It is fascinating.

Your point about the consequences of inertia not changing anything, which is what you are hinting at. I think, people will still moan, especially those who use their vote and see the value of their vote negated by inertia of others to use theirs.

Hello Vincent,

I see that political passion still exists, that you are the man who does value his vote.

As for 'limpness' it is not clear that, that is what it is. There may be other perceptions, totally at odds with yours. For example, people may feel what is politically on offer in the UK gives them no real choice, that they are politically castrated.