So I stood in the polling booth this morning with a lump in my throat and a tear in my eye. I checked the box and stood looking at it for a minute, just trying to hold on to the feeling of it all meaning so very much.
For starters, it’s as well I walked to the polling station, because the streets around are thronged with cars and there’s no way I’d have got anywhere near. It’s not like that on local election day, let me tell you! But as I left, and walked slowly home, I passed a lot of people; we all said hi to each other as if it was Christmas Eve – brimming over with emotion, not being indecent enough to ask how we each voted but knowing by a silent gleam in the eye that we’re hoping for a yes.
And, for the record, my vote is very definitely not to do with how I feel about English people, as I keep reading everywhere. How I feel about English people is no different to how I feel about Scottish people, Arabian people, Mexican people or anyone else. We’re all just ordinary people, doing our best, hoping for better, working for our families and our futures.
And that, my friends, is why I had to vote yes. As I work hard for my family, I want the government I elected to be doing the same thing. As I pay my taxes, I want the government I elected to be spending them with people like me in mind. Doesn’t seem too much to ask, really.
For the last decade, England’s gaze has turned inward upon itself, and there has been fretting over immigration, the rise of UKIP, and a Tory government who has instituted such a hateful, evil policy as the Bedroom Tax. And that’s out of step with the rest of the world; as we look outward to Europe, to making friends, alliances, and enjoying being part of the world, England is taking it’s ball back and going home.
I tell my children that you stand up to bullies, and that’s what we’re doing today. Nobody is going to tell us that we must be governed by people who have no interest in our welfare, least of all insanely wealthy bosses of big banks who brought the whole thing crashing down in the first place.
And so, my vote made, I drink coffee, I think, I hope, I wait. It’s going to be a long night.