I can cope with the despair. It's the hope I can't stand

By Symon Hill
May 6, 2010

Today, I went to a polling station to do something which I hope never to do again. I voted in a general election conducted under the first-past-the-post system.

This election could be a milestone in the struggle to scrap that system. Or it could just be another lost opportunity.

If we can produce a hung parliament and open up politics, we could achieve change that results in the British public never again being required to elect our parliament and government under such a blatantly unfair system.

This is not an issue that concerns only individuals with surprising levels of interest in constitutional structures. As the popularity of grassroots campaigns such as Power 2010 and Hang 'Em have shown, this is something that inspires passion from people in many walks of life. It is easy to see the connections between our lack of control over a parliament that supposedly belongs to us and the continual flow of policy that goes against the interests and views of the majority and targets the most vulnerable.

That's why I'm so hopeful this time – and so nervous. I usually start to feel really nervous a few hours before the polls close. This time the feeling started on Tuesday evening.

There are two things I fear. Firstly, the result: it's possible that the Tories could scrape an overall majority even though most people in the country will have voted against them. Secondly, I fear that a government may fail to act on the popular demand for voting reform and that the movements for change, having put all their energy into the election, will give up and let them get away with this.

We must simply refuse to do that. Whatever the result tonight, we must not pause, but keep up the pressure for democratic change.

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