Thursday, 15 April 2010

election time


After I had two friends of mine kindly lecturing me about how i should register to vote, you know all that "women fought for our right to vote" and even the good old "you are meant to be greek: you guys "invented" democracy", i decided to finally register so that i can vote. 

I logged on the website, with my friend's words as a mantra "women fought for our right to vote"; the more i read, though, the less passion i had for my vote to be counted. First i found out that the election register has two versions: what they call the full register, and the "edited" register. You can opt out of the "edited" one: I wonder how many people actually know that they can opt out. The edited register is just a list of people's details which are sold to marketing companies. Strike 1: our right to vote is now another profit making business.  I know this is how economies survive, but i do have this very strong core belief that sometimes we need to separate people's core rights and profit, money making. Strike 2: OK, so i can opt out from the edited register, but to be honest my trust in this system has been pretty much damaged; it's about principles. Strike 3: the full register, although it gives you the power to vote, it is also used for other purposes; not that i have something to hide: but it's that "principles" thing in the way again.

The more i hear about elections the more angry i become. I am firstly disappointed hearing people saying "i am gonna vote labour so that the conservatives don't get in" it breaks my heart. We spend so many years marching the streets against the war. How can we now hold the pen and vote again for labour? how can we approve of the killings? I really do not understand how we can march, get arrested, shout, and then hold a pen and vote for them, again? Them, who took our fingerprints, our photos, and details under the anti-terrorist section, when all we did was to say "hey i don't think you should go abroad and shoot people". How can we hold that pen and give our vote to them?

People tell me, this is so that the tories don't get in. Well, if the tories don't get in, and labour does will you sleep at night? will you feel good that you did the right thing? stood up for what you believed in? And also, why if you vote for the smaller parties you think it is a wasted vote? If your beliefs are expressed voting for the smaller parties then bloody vote for the the smaller parties. This is how you can be heard: by voting for what you believe in. Only then, you become stronger. 

In my quest to be the greek who honors democracy i started reading the manifestos, trying to fish out the things that interest me the most. I came across the whole bicycle  thing and was really amused by:

the UKIP party! Amused in the way of watching a really bad horror film. UKIP talks of forcing cyclists to dismount, making them get off at roundabouts, even banning them from road use, and enforcing bicycle parking charges. Wow, i wonder is these people ever rode a bike when they were kids! remember, that feeling of freedom with the wind gently touching your face; that feeling of riding aimessly, smiling, riding...well, seems if UKIP is in power this will all be history! How weird that the bicycle seems to demand such extreme control measures; i don't know whether to laugh or cry.

LIB DEMS talk about safer cycle lanes and routes. Although they seem to lack the passion on our beloved bicycle, at least they are not treating  it as the devil and are heading the right direction.

TORIES talk about giving priorities to the issues of cycling. aahhhmmm, that's it really, there isn't any more info. But Boris Johnson is a keen cyclist AND he follows me on twitter (better Boris than the BNP following me!) i like this personal touch of keeping it real (but that's not really enough for a vote! is it?)  oh David cycles too.

LABOUR well the labour brought in the Cycle to Work Scheme right?. Which meant many of my friends have got a bike now, hooray! But now we got the bikes, we really need to see a more proactive policy on cycling. I mean don't just give us a discount to swimming with hungry sharks. (this is how sometimes  cycling feels in london!)

The greens seem to really get it right when it comes to cycling. They mention junction priority over motorized traffic, well maintained and regularly reviewed lanes and roads, and basically see the bicycle as an important legitimate vehicle. Alleluia! It seems they have at least googled Copenhagen, and Amsterdam and have seen how big cities can truly incorporate the bicycle safely. It's really worth reading their cycling policies.
Since we are talking about politics, i guess this is a good place to mention that Tamsin (from the To The Commons) is running for local MP. This is the girl who was involved in the Suffragette climate rush  and seems to have sound views on environmentalism, cycling and all good things.  Slogans like "this is what democracy looks like" and actions like Critical Mass, Guerrilla Gardening,  echo anarchist values: by that i mean values of non-hierarchy, equality and community. What slightly confuses me is that democracy does depend on hierarchy: an approved leader; and the beauty of guerilla gardening, critical mass and the likes are all about horizontal power. They are all about how we can do things without a leader; my brain is confused... but still better to have the Commons representing us, right? Better to have someone who keeps getting in trouble for doing activist things. :-) So if you are in north london, Tamsin Omond will be standing as a parliamentary candidate for Hampstead. What fun to vote for such "trouble maker". The Commons are also organising a ride this saturday: Pump Your Ride, Saturday 17th April 2010. Meet at 3.30pm by Whitestone Pond, top of Hampstead if you fancy it..

Well, enough political rants. Time for a bicycle ride.