No one today can afford to be indifferent to democracy because tyranny comes in all shapes and sizes.
Source: The MirrorThere is a good chance this general election will be my last because I am 94 years old. It’s why I am treating this election like I did my first in 1945 – as an event that can change our destinies.
During that election, held while the embers of the Second World War still smouldered, I was just 22. But events I had witnessed and endured in childhood as well as in uniform had aged my soul.
The war, along with the Great Depression, taught me and my generation the hard lesson that all of us – no matter our station in life – must defend their country against tyranny if civilisation is to be preserved.
Defence of civilisation comes in many guises but ultimately it comes by being a good and informed citizen who votes in elections.
Patriotism, or belief in country, didn’t come easy to me as a young man because I had grown up in extreme poverty in the destitute working-class neighbourhoods of Barnsley, Bradford and Halifax. Still in 1941, at the age of 18, I joined the RAF . Somehow, I survived the war, whereas a great many of my generation didn’t because their lives were extinguished in battles big and small all across the globe.
It’s why, when the war was over, I knew I had been blessed with good fortune and a responsibility to both those who had died and those who were yet to be born.
So, when a general election was called in 1945, I knew it was my duty to exercise my democratic franchise and vote, because so many of my generation had been killed fighting to preserve our rights as free citizens.
Besides, that election – very much like the one being fought today – offered real choice to me and my mates, who were young and just starting out in life. I knew, when I marked my ballot on that hot July day 72 years ago, I was voting for a Britain for the many and not just the few.
I voted for my future. I voted for fair wages, affordable housing, education and the right to public health care with the creation of the NHS , all of which was promised in the Labour manifesto.
Democracy only works if you are willing to exercise your rights as a citizen to vote. Not voting will always be an open goal for the entitled. You can’t stand on the sidelines when your way of life, your chance for a hopeful future, depends on the power of your individual vote.
Not voting isn’t a political statement, it’s political surrender. Don’t let someone else decide your fate. It is up to you to register to vote by May 22 and then on June 8 stand up, be counted and make your mark against those who want to steal your birthright, the NHS and the Welfare State.
I am in the winter of my days. So I can say with all honesty the times we live in now are as dangerous as those I knew in the 1930s and 40s. No one today can afford to be indifferent to democracy because tyranny comes in all shapes and sizes.
Creeping Fascism: Brexit, Trump, and the Rise of the Far Right
A tide of racism, nationalism, and authoritarianism is sweeping the world. With the world economy hobbled by debt and stagnation, society being torn apart by austerity and inequality, and a political system paralysed by corporate power, support for the Far Right is surging. This new book by Dr Neil Faulkner and Samir Dathi argues that we face the clear and present danger of ‘creeping fascism’.