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Election 2017: 35 reasons why everyone in Suffolk and Essex must get out and vote

PUBLISHED: 08:00 08 June 2017

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in a Polling Booth circa 1910.  She was one of the leaders of the movement to secure votes for women. Picture: PRESS ASSOCIATION

Suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst in a Polling Booth circa 1910. She was one of the leaders of the movement to secure votes for women. Picture: PRESS ASSOCIATION

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There are a million reasons to go and vote today – but 35 very important ones, writes Richard Porritt.

Emergency services on London Bridge as police respond to the terrorist attack. Picture: YUI MOK/PA WIREEmergency services on London Bridge as police respond to the terrorist attack. Picture: YUI MOK/PA WIRE

The 2017 General Election will forever be scarred by the horrific attacks in Manchester and London.

Theresa May wanted this election to be fought on Brexit but in the end it has been shaped by pauses in campaigning followed by furious rows over security.

There were calls, especially after three terrorists went on a killing spree in London Bridge, to postpone polling, to put the election back.

But that would have been a defeat for democracy.

The murderers who interrupted our election don’t just want to attack and kill innocent victims, they want to put an end to our way of life. They want democracy and freedom to erode and then cease to exist under the weight of their barbarism, horror and evil.

There is no more powerful expression of democracy or celebration of its freedoms than filing into village halls, community centres and libraries to put a cross next to the person you want in Westminster.

Terrorists hate that.

In March on Westminster Bridge five people died. Last month 22 people died at the Manchester Arena. And just last weekend eight people were killed in London Bridge. Those victims offer 35 exceptional reasons why everyone must get out and put a cross in a box today.

Here in Britain we often like to moan about our elected representatives. Every bus queue, village pub and office is filled with chatter about politics whether it is a national scandal involving a high-profile MP or pot holes and bin collections.

Politics invades all of our lives every single day. It dictates what your children are taught at school, the care you will get when you are older and even the amount of money you take home every month in your pay packet.

The people we elect at general elections are our representatives – they are our eyes, ears and most importantly voice in the House of Commons. If you don’t vote you can’t moan about their performance with any credibility.

Do you want to be left out of the conversation? Don’t you care about the future of our region, our country?

This election was a shock. Theresa May had repeatedly told us she had no plans to go to the country. We might never know the real reasons behind the decision she took while walking in the Welsh mountains with her husband Philip.

Some say it was a cynical ploy to wipe out Labour, others believe it had more to do with snatching a bigger power base within her own party. Mrs May says it was to give her a true mandate to begin Brexit negotiations.

Whatever the truth is doesn’t really matter – we should relish this opportunity to take time to pause and look at our country, do a detailed stock-take and help decide the future direction.

There has been a lot of talk about voter fatigue since April 18 when Mrs May went out of that famous door and stood on that famous street to drop her election bombshell.

But how can anyone justify being bored of democracy? Less than 100 years ago women were still battling for full voting rights. It would be 1928 when they finally won the chance to vote on the same terms as men.

The Suffragette movement saw women march, protest and go on hunger strikes to win the vote. One, Emily Davison even threw herself in front of the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby. She died for women’s right to vote.

Every wasted vote is a stain upon her memory.

And if you do vote, if you are interested in politics and you know the importance of general elections then tell your friends. Urge them to go along to the polling station with you. Offer to buy them a drink, give them a lift, do everything you can to engage them. Because every wasted vote, every “can’t be bothered” shrug is shamefully anti-democratic.

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