Monday, 18 May 2015

Never Mind the Politics

Thursday 7th May 2015.

Now that’s a date that many people will remember for a variety of different reasons and yet others will screw their eyes up really tight, count to ten, wish upon a star and hope that it didn’t really happen. However, upon peeping through the cracks between your fingers you realise that yes it really did happen and the Tories have been re-elected.
However, this is no party political blog…..well, not this time.

No, this is about why Thursday 7th May 2015 was a memorable day for Emily. Will she remember the date? No, she’s forgotten it already I’m sure. Will she remember why it’s so memorable for us? No, it was just another day for her.

So why was it a memorable day?

Well, it was the day that Emily got to exercise her democratic right to vote.

Oh that!

Yes, that!

Don’t know why she bothered, what a waste of a vote.

Well, no actually. You see there are very few things which people with a learning disability get to do in absolute equal measure to the rest of us. I must admit I’m half surprised that people with disabilities are allowed a full vote all to themselves and don’t have it watered down somehow. Oh wait, that will probably come in with the various reforms over the next five years….

But actually, when you think about it, there really are not that many things that people with Down’s syndrome and other learning disabilities get to do with the same measure as anyone else. There is so much made of equal rights etc. but in reality we play at equal rights much of the time.

Yes, of course you can have an education (we just reserve the right to only give you the support we think you need and not the support you actually need).

Yes, of course you can have free health care (as long as we are in control of what we deem to be in your best interests, taking into account cost of treatment and perception of how it might benefit you and society as a whole).

Yes, of course you can get a job (but we won’t make it easy for you and we’ll make sure that you lose any benefits you might have been entitled to so you will be no better off).

Yes, of course you can vote.

Yes, of course you can vote. What? Where’s the catch? Where’s the hidden agenda with a whisper behind the back of your hand?

Well actually yes, people with learning disabilities can vote. So we thought why the heck not! So we downloaded the simplified manifestos from the Mencap website and told Emily what we were going to do.

Now when I say simplified manifestos, they were still too detailed to hold Emily’s interest (or mine) for more than a few minutes, so we played headlines. We looked at the headlines for Labour, Conservative, Lib Dems and UKIP. Yes I know, but UKIP have a very strong presence in Rotherham due to the very badly managed Labour dominated council making a right old mess of things, giving UKIP more than a foothold on the council. The lunatics have taken over the asylum. Hard to tell. The lunatics were always there in my opinion. Thank God for our fab local Labour MP’s especially Sarah Champion. Champion by name. Champion by nature. No, it’s not a political blog post….

Anyway, thank the Lord….I mean, anyway, Emily, in her infinite wisdom got rid of the Lib Dems and UKIP straight away. For Emily the hot topic was the NHS and, particularly, care for those with cancer.

(She is THE most compassionate soul on the planet in my opinion.)

So it was red or blue. Labour vs. The Tories. Which would she choose? (Oh, and before you say anything The Green Party were not contending in our constituency. The English Democrats were but even the looneys think that they’re a bit too far off the scale!

She chose. And off we went to Emily’s old primary school to cast our votes.

I must confess I went expecting a fight when we got there. I expected someone to say Emily couldn’t vote or she’d need some help or something else ridiculous. I went first, got my voting form and waited for Emily who handed in her polling card, confirmed her name and was given her voting form. I went in one booth, Emily in another. She took her time and I just finished mine in time to see Emily carefully put her X in the box she said she was going to vote for (we practiced that bit at home). And then she went over and posted it in the box just like it was a letter going to Santa when she was seven.

And there it is. A vote cast in the General Election on Thursday 7th May 2015 by Emily on exactly the same terms as anyone else voting. Result! Never mind the politics!

Sorry? Who did she vote for?

I told you….this is not a party political blog post!

Emily, on her way in at the Polling Station

The vote is cast


  1. What a rite of passage Emily! And Paul, I could feel you were going to air your surprise that voting has't been watered down yet, and I feared that Emily might have been stopped at the door... but I am delighted it all went smoothly. Good luck with meeting the MP to talk about making voting simpler... for all our sakes. Hayley x

  2. Brilliant!! We had exactly the same experience on exactly the same day! And we also used the Mencap stuff! Infact when we were talking about the EU thingy the other day she asked if Mencap had done the same again. We had a long discussion about it over Sunday dinner and got balanced views (very unusual) from our mad socialist son and then had the socialist viewpoint and Heidi has made up her mind....

    1. Fantastic Liz! It's going to be hard to engage Emily in this one but we're going to have a go!