It is hard to believe that it has been less than two months since parliament voted to hold Thursday’s snap election. The intervening weeks have been an exciting space for political debate, and we’ve heard a lot of promises from all sides, but will anything actually change?
I can’t help but feel frustrated by the tone of much of the debate. Watching politicians turn the million personal tragedies behind the rise in benefit sanctions, foodbank use and homelessness, into over-used slogans to score points. After being involved in the work of the Poverty Truth Commission, I know all too well that there is a human story behind every single statistic, and I feel this is often forgotten.
Despite this there are reasons to be cheerful, between April 18th and the 22nd of May, almost three million people registered to vote, with almost half a million young people registering on the final day. People have been sharing with us their hopes for the debate and for society. It seems that people are more engaged now than have ever been before, and they are asking questions; in many cases demanding change, on inequality, mental health and social services. Yes Brexit is ever-present in these discussions, but people want to know their local issues will be taken care of.
In response politicians from all sides are promising to make our country better, stronger fairer, more equal, but we’ve learned in recent years that even a manifesto pledge is not a guarantee. Whatever the outcome on Friday morning, we must demand commitment and honesty from our representatives, and where promises are forgotten we must hold them to account. It is only through staying engaged, continuing to ask questions and maintaining pressure that that we will every effect change. These past weeks have been a great start but the real work is just beginning, we must be willing to work for the world we want to see.