i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Politicians aren’t all as bad as each other –  some of them are worse

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Why I vote. This is an attempt to achieve the ultimate in i distillation, condensing a 6,000-word speech to sixth-form students at Twickenham’s Orleans Park yesterday (pity them) into a 314-word column – part of  the election series by Robert Peston’s  charity Speaker for Schools...

I don’t believe in a single party, I don’t support a party, I’ve never been a party member and probably never will be. I’m not totally convinced by any of them. But I don’t need to be, to vote. My argument boils down to this:  if you don’t vote, you don’t matter.

There are five reasons I vote.

1. Look at other countries. We can vote for whoever we want in free elections. Many other people on Earth cannot. Take North Korea: a cult of personality makes the people poorer, sicker and more terrified. Or China, where no form of organised disagreement is tolerated, bloggers are jailed, academics and religious  leaders harassed, protests banned, the web restricted. Or Turkmenistan,  where President Turkmenbashi blocked the internet, renamed April after his mother, banned dogs, lip synching and beards, suggested  people chew on bones to strengthen their teeth and told those living in the desert to learn to ice-skate.

2. British history has been written  in the blood of those who died for our  democratic freedoms. Fighting Nazi-ism... Mill workers protesting at the  Peterloo Massacre... The Suffragettes.

3. If I don’t vote, I lose the right to complain with integrity.

4. Voting makes me feel good. It’s easy. Voting is a positive choice.

5. Voting does carry power. Politicians aren’t all as bad as each other –  some of them are worse. Many MPs are superb, dedicated to the public they serve. Voting is a way to reward the virtuous and to punish the greedy and stupid. Things never have  to stay the way they are. If we give up, change will never happen. [Phew.]