9 Ways To Survive The General Election

On April 18th, 2017, our harsh and merciless lizard leader Theresa May announced a snap election was coming to our fair shores in less than 50 days. Never one to miss out on an opportunity to capitalise on a time of instability, the Conservative leader went back on her word from less than a year ago – in which she said she categorically would not hold a snap election. At this point in the scheme of things, with Brexit busses and NHS privatisation, it’s a wonder that anyone would take something a Tory says as gospel – but alas, a nation of people were blindsided by the announcement. Partly because of the time scale in which she has enforced this election, and partly because many would argue that the current state of the opposition isn’t in the best shape. 

Personally, I was conflicted. As a long standing Labour supporter and JC fangirl, I never thought I’d consider straying into the more ‘central’ political parties, and I find Tim Farron as about politically inspiring as a wet sponge. However, there is no doubt in my mind that due to years of relentless bashing in the media and general lack of what most would consider ‘strong leadership qualities’ (read: didn’t go to Eaton), that trying to convince a majority of the population to vote Labour may come with its struggles. However, I’m not about to role over and let the self entitled, xenophobic, privatising, trigger happy and cock sure right-wing nut jobs weasel their way into another 5 years of unashamed cuts and poverty inducing tactics. We have only a few days to get our shit together and try and win this election – so if, like me, you’re feeling disillusioned about the next six weeks and the fate of the country, you may want to read 10 ways you can overcome The Fear, get out the echo chamber and get your hands dirty. 

Hold her accountable – did you know that fear mongering May has a voting record that makes your weird uncle, you know the one whose always sharing posts stating he wants Britain to be Britain again, look well allright? You might, but what about your dad who has got insidiously less socialist since he moved to the home counties and makes vague statements about local parking prices motivating his voting choice? The guy hanging out on the Guardian comment sections saying he ‘doesn’t feel Jeremy Corbyn’s presenting style makes him a good choice’ might have conveniently forgotten that May literally drove a bus around the UK less than a year ago threatening to round up migrants and have them arrested. And on the one hand, we have Tim Farron not confirming or denying that he thinks gay people are sinners, but we also have Theresa May’s votes for the last 20 years thinking gay people don’t deserve to have children and that it’s totally chill for the ages of consent to be blurred between the genders. Shout that shit from the rooftops. For every article yelling at the left for not wearing ties properly, counterattack with one about the fact May actively wants to SCRAP THE HUMAN RIGHTS ACT. 

Campaign – we have six weeks until this vote comes to a head, which is barely enough time for me to plan a group trip for a curry and the pub in Kingston, let alone a general election. So you really need to help your political party in any way you can – regardless of your stance. If you can spare the emotional energy, do not underestimate the power of your voice and influence. Knock on doors. Donate a fiver to the parties website if you can spare it. Ring up your Gran and tell her that even though she gets the Daily Mail for free with her online shop, she doesn’t have to read it. Backlash is to be expected, but being told to piss off and get a real job by someone you went to school with on Facebook is marginally less inconvenient than having another 5 years of being a victim of the welfare state. 

Become a member of your preferred party – obviously, this is not within everyones means, however you can join most parties for as little as £1 if you’re under 25. Even though it seems like a small contribution, it can go a long way. 2,000 people joined Labour yesterday, pushing it firmly into the largest party in Europe with half a million members. Parties like the Conservatives are often bank rolled by big donors, so the more you can help your chosen party, the better, even if it is just a one off small token gesture. 

Speak to your Local MP – with a lot of game playing, figureheads and PMQ’s that are as petty as a playground bust ups, it’s easy to forget about the sway and influencer of your (hopefully) humble local MP. They are there ultimately to represent your voice in parliament, so as we run up to one of the most historic elections in recent British History, ask them what you can do to help. Express to them your genuine concerns about the election and what passion points about your community you have. Not only will this give them a better understanding of what the people they represent want, it can help filter into the political strategy of their own campaign trail. Chances are your concerns are your neighbours as well. 

Volunteer – Theresa May’s campaign trail will count heavily on her xenophobic rhetoric to scare potential voters. Unfortunately, as we saw with the London Mayoral campaign last year, the Tory party are not afraid to use racism for political gain. This combined with the triggering of Article 50 means that right now it’s a pretty terrifying time for minorities and immigrants, with hate crime consistently on the rise. By volunteering to help refugee charities, helping out at food banks, or lending a hand to any community based projects for social cohesion, you are bringing a bit of light into a pretty dark time. Plus, this is a great opportunity to get to know the multi-faceted opinions and concerns of a whole wealth of people.

Attend rallies and protests – never underestimate the power of people, they do make a difference. Luckily, the democratic heartbeat of our country is alive and pumping, as shown by the amazing turnouts in a spew of anti-Trump demonstrations following Theresa’s announcement of the US and UK’s ss-pecial relationship. If you are able to attend community get togethers that outline in a peaceful way the danger and threat a Tory government poses to our safety as a country, you are helping through the power of numbers.

Become a member of your preferred party – obviously, this is not within everyones means, however you can join most parties for as little as £1 if you’re under 25. Even though it seems like a small contribution, it can go a long way. 2,000 people joined Labour yesterday, pushing it firmly into the largest party in Europe with half a million members. Parties like the Conservatives are often bank rolled by big donors, so the more you can help your chosen party, the better, even if it is just a one off small token gesture. 

Vote Swap –  Whilst I do believe that tactical voting can sometimes back fire, at this point in the chess match Theresa May is playing with the livelihood of Britain, we need to get our pieces aligned. Vote Swap helps you identify whether your constituency is a safe Green or Labour seat, or how close they are to achieving a win. From the back of this, you can pledge with another voter from a safe Green or Labour seat to swap with you, giving both parties more of a chance of winning that constituency. This is the best way to safeguard your vote. voteswap.org 

Consume News Responsibly – in a post truth and post Trump era, we’ve heard the slanderous ‘fake news’ phrase more times than we can count. It is ultimately our own responsibility to verify our sources on what we share, but we can help point out others who maybe falling into the honeytrap. Unfortunately, biased news is a real issue in British politics, and with ex Tory chancellor George Osbourne being named the new editor of the London Evening Standard (a punch in the jugular to journalistic integrity), chances are it’s about to spit more bile than the Daily Mail. If you live in the capital, don’t pick it up. If you’re in charge of placing advertising, don’t sponsor fascist rags. I don’t care if you read the Daily Mail just for the celeb gossip, every click you give them funds a campaign of hate. Equally, sharing articles that you disagree with directly from the source of evil is funding them. Don’t share it, don’t acknowledge it, boycott it.

 

Look after yourself – I know first hand how mentally exhausting it can be fighting against what can feel like a brick wall sometimes. The next 50 days will see some really gross tactics that will make you feel like giving up and waiting for the fall out of nuclear war in your bed. Trying to get your point across to people who adamantly don’t agree with you is frustrating and upsetting at times, so self care is totally key if you are affected by things like this. Walk away from your keyboard everyone now and again, rest and eat properly when engaging in activism, and remind yourself of why you care. 

Words: Olivia Wedderburn, Images: Shaun Evelyn