Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Why you should vote on behalf of your children

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I am currently sat browsing the internet, sifting through political policies. Like a large proportion of the voting population, I am undecided who to vote for. I am disillusioned with politicians, partly because of the way they make promises they can't keep, and partly because I haven't a clue what things like 'non-doms' and 'Trident nuclear deterrents' are (though at least it makes me look them up). Perhaps you're sat sniggering at my lack of political knowledge, but I am probably joined by the 40% of people who find the process too confusing to put a simple cross in a box. I don't consider myself an unintelligent human being, and yet half of the policies I read may as well have been written in mandarin, or some other language I previously thought was just a small fruit. Besides which, the way we choose our government is getting more and more like a game show; voting for whoever has the most charisma or whoever bigs up their policies the loudest. Still, as the old sepia photographs of the suffragettes haunt my Facebook feed, I cannot not vote. I have a voice and I need to use it, even if it means spoiling my paper.

There has been a lot of talk about 'working families' and how each political party will benefit us. I use the term us because I have a family and I work so I presume that I'm included in that category. Because I am juggling both conventional work and being-a-mother work, it means that I work twice as hard and earn less money than I've ever done in my whole life. I will go as far as to say that I consider looking after my children far harder work than my day job and I therefore spend the vast majority of my wage on childcare so I can go to an office instead and get a cup of tea made for me at nine o'clock in the morning. Sure, I'm ploughing my wages back into the economy, but unless I didn't love my career (or didn't have such a tea addiction), it would be verging on futile. Labour and The Conservatives have promised me more free childcare, but only after I've squandered three years of wages on it. What are we supposed to do? Stop having children and thus start the slow descent to our extinction?

Although I doubt I will ever become a stay at home mum (more for sanity than financial reasons), it's worth considering the mothers who want to work hard looking after their own children. Do they not work hard? According to government policies, they are to be discouraged because they do nothing for the economy. Rightly so, you may be thinking, but here's something I would like you to consider when you put that cross in that box: are you voting for yourself or on behalf of your children? And are you simply voting for your own, or the next generation?

I am not suggesting that we go back to the 1930s, where woman stay at home and look after the children and the men bring home the bacon. What I am suggesting, however, is that bringing up children right is extremely important in order to raise the next generation of people who will contribute to our society. Of course we are always going to want to vote for the party that most fulfils our own needs right here and now. It's not fair, after all, that you work hard and pay taxes which are squandered on stay at home mothers who sit and watch Jeremy Kyle all day. God forbid that in ten years time your own daughter finds herself unexpectedly pregnant at the age of sixteen and it's down to you to provide for her and her baby.

See, the problem with voting solely for yourself is that society will never get any better and the divide between the rich and the poor will be greater. Please don't give me any crap about the extremely wealthy people who have worked hard all their lives to get where they are today - so have I, and so has the cleaner who spends all day getting blisters on her hands and feet scrubbing floors for minimum wage. She was never given the option of a good education because she just happened to be born into the wrong family, and cleaning floors is all she knows. Will you give her a leg up so that her children have more chance of making a better living than her? Sod her, you say, and with that the possibility that her son could be the brain surgeon that saves your life in twenty years if he had the opportunity you voted against.

I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones; I had a good education and went to university, albeit with debts I am still paying back (or would be if I earned enough). I live in a modest but nice house because loving parents helped with a deposit. But my own children may not be so lucky. If I vote for myself I will vote for the free childcare and the things that will help myself and my husband and our careers. But what if I vote for my children? What if I have a child who, god forbid, has a disability and cannot work like I can? What if I have a child who gets made redundant and can't afford to look after his family? What if, in the future, I gain a grandchild with foreign blood?

I am not advocating that we raise our children to think this country is a free for all, or that we shouldn't have consequences for our actions. A fairer society doesn't mean one without boundaries. As a loving parent I say no to my sons, but I also want the best for them. Do you think I will love one more than the other if he earns more money? Of course not. I, along with mothers from all backgrounds, want to treat my children fairly. I want my children to be happy. I want to give them the best possible life I can, not one where they are raised to believe that they deserve something simply because they are lucky enough to have it.

So on with the vote...

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