The third Scottish Parliament of the modern era has come to an end. The Braw Leader is packing up his tartan pencil case and hoping to be back after the hols, and we have 43 days of full on electioneering before getting to cast our vote for the next bunch.
I can feel my vast readership flinching at the prospect, but I want to encourage you to take part. Voting for a government is the most important thing you can do with your citizenship. All over the world, people are fighting and dying every day just for the right to be heard. Less than a hundred years ago, people in this country were fighting and dying for that very right.
So don’t just switch off. Pay attention. Read some of the enormous pile of dead trees landing on your doorstep. Listen to the news. Check the papers (but not the opinion polls). Talk to each other.
I’m not telling you how to vote, but I am asking you to make good use of the gift of democracy. Open your brains and your ears and your eyes, and make an informed decision.
- Don’t vote that way just cause your Dad or Mum did.
- Don’t vote that way just cause you always have.
- Don’t vote that way just cause you like his/her looks.
- Don’t vote that way just cause you hate what his/her party has done in the past.
- Don’t vote that way just cause you hate what his/her party is doing elsewhere right now.
Vote how you vote because that person or party or philosophy makes sense to you overall.
And when it’s done, and the next generation are parking their posteriors at Holyrood for the next four (maybe five) years, keep your brains and your ears and your eyes open.
If you backed the winning team, be a critical friend.
If you backed the losing team, provide constructive criticism.
And if you decided not to vote at all, shame on you for squandering Democracy. You forfeit the right to say anything about how the country is run for the next four (or five) years. You cannot complain to me (or anyone else) about how things are going. You don’t get to take part in discussions down the pub. Because it is your fault.
So don’t come running to me when it all goes horribly wrong.