1994. I was about 12 years old. Two images stand out in my mind: news reports of Black South Africans standing for hours in the hot sun, many under umbrellas, waiting to cast their vote. Young born-frees and older people who never thought they’d see the day that they would be able to vote. The second image is my father, visibly moved and sitting beside our beautiful old wireless radio in the living room, listening to Dr Hastings Kamuzu Banda conceding Malawi’s first multiparty democratic elections. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I knew that there was something immensely significant about the claiming the right to vote. It mattered.
It still matters. The odd thing is, the people in the UK who really need the political system to respond to their needs (the young in particular) don’t really turn out in force. As a result, the system is skewed to those who still do: the old. I don’t believe in generation wars, but it’s a fact that if you don’t turn out and get heard, you’re more likely to get overlooked when it comes to policy decisions and cuts.
The marvellous Sofi Taylor has written a great blog for Migrant Voice on what sorts of questions to ask on the doorstep if you care about migrants and immigration. Crucially, it’s a reminder that migrants need to make their voices heard too.
Just do it. Because you’re worth it.