Polls have opened in the United Kingdom General Election.
Elections, for all their faults, must serve as a reminder of the things which, as civilised people, we should never forget to cherish:
– we are innocent until proven guilty in an independent court of law;
– we have rights and freedoms established in law; and
– we elect our legislators and they are accountable to us.
These seem remarkably simple things, yet they are unavailable to the vast majority across the world and it is remarkable how we forget about them when they do not suit.
We must never yield to a society where vigilante “justice” rules supreme; we must never restrict rights to the extent that even minor offence is not tolerated; and we must never stop voting to the extent that our legislators can ignore us.
A society without Rule of Law (even when it doesn’t suit), without Freedom of Expression (even when it offends), and without Elected Representatives (even when they cause us to despair) is at once less fair, less free, and less effective. Here in Northern Ireland, of all places, we know that the alternative to democracy is bloody chaos.
So, whatever you do, remember these are hard-won things available only to a minority world-wide – so please vote! Have your say.
In Northern Ireland, remember your passport, driving licence or smart card (or electoral ID card) as you head to the polling station.