The Price of Freedom is to Stand Up and Vote

06/05/2010

Writing in the Yorkshire Post, the Archbishop encourages individuals to vote. His article follows... 

You should have been at my home last weekend when dozens of teenagers gathered to write their post-election manifesto. Only three were actually old enough to vote, but they were all as keen as mustard to get to grips with the issues of the day and list their priorities. They really cared about their country and beyond.

And now that the General Election has dawned, with the major parties competing for your vote in a number of marginal seats here in Yorkshire, there should be at least as much commitment to voting as anywhere else.

Can it be true that some will not be sufficiently motivated to vote at all?

If anyone says, "all parties are the same" or "I can't be bothered", they will never be able to complain about the outcome of the election.

Recently, in Iraq and Afghanistan, voters risked their lives to join long queues at the polling booths.

In the South African election of 1994, when every adult was given the right to vote, they lined up for miles to use it.

In our own country more than a century ago, Suffragettes were imprisoned for campaigning for the same right.

What the Irish politician John Philpot Curran said in the 18th century is so fitting for today's world: "It is the common fate of the indolent to see their rights become a prey to the active. The condition upon which God hath given liberty to man is eternal vigilance; which condition if he break, servitude is at once the consequence of his crime and the punishment of his guilt."

Edmund Burke and others put it more succinctly: "Evil prospers when good men do nothing."

Let me remind you of what happened this time last year, when the BNP managed to secure a member of the European Parliament here in Yorkshire.

It was simply because there were not enough electors going to the booths to put their "X" against other names.

It wasn't because the BNP were growing in popularity, or because their thinly-disguised message of hate resonated with Yorkshire people, for their vote actually decreased by 6,000. It was simply because so many voters stayed at home.

I chuckled at a cartoon a few weeks ago. Two people were chatting together; one said to the other: "You know, I'm not sure I can maintain this level of apathy for four weeks."

Standing up for freedom and taking one's share of responsibility for this nation cannot be an inconvenience.

For it is not just the next election, but democracy itself which is at stake.

I would not dream of telling you for whom you should vote, but I do encourage you to value the priceless heritage of freedom we enjoy in Britain.

Please spend a few moments reading the candidates' literature, asking them questions, telling them what you want and see how they react.

If all electors were to cast their votes, it would be a great statement to the next Parliament that the electorate takes the governance of this 
country as seriously as those young people who came to my home last weekend.

One final thought. If you are still undecided about the way you should cast your vote, pick out the party which you think will work for the common good, rather than for sectional interests. As they say on the rugby field: "With you."

This article originally appeared in the Yorkshire Post on Thursday 6 May 2010.

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/opinion/John-Sentamu-The-price-of.6275689.jp