While sharing a lunch time with a business friend, we touched on the subject of these interminable political party conferences. To my utter surprise,she said her husband was “fed up with the lot of them, they were all the same, equally as bad“… and, she continued, he wasn’t going to bother to vote for anyone come the general election. This business man is considered to be clear-headed. When he decides he’s had enough of all-comers, alarm bells need to be ringing. The lady was also taken aback by this. She felt it was her duty to vote. The voting choices apart, for women, she said, obtaining the franchise of the vote was a hard fought right, one that should not be easily relinquished. Many women make the same observation.

‘The common man’ did not always have the franchise of a vote in the UK. With limitations, that right was given in 1884. Universal male suffrage was given in 1918 when all men over the age of 21 were given the vote. The current voting age is eighteen.

It might be that men are not so aware of the history of gaining their right to vote, their enfranchisement. It is by no means the first time I have heard men choosing to not use their voting power. Some make it sound like a positive virtue not to do so. It would be interesting to know the public gender breakdown of votes caste in elections. If men were better informed on how they acquired their right to vote, would it make any difference?



  1. Reform Act 1832 – extended voting rights to adult males who rented propertied land of a certain value, so allowing 1 in 7 males in the UK voting rights

    Reform Act 1867 – enfranchised all male householders, so increasing male suffrage to the United Kingdom
    Representation of the People Act 1884 – amended the Reform Act of 1867 so that it would apply equally to the countryside; this brought the voting population to 5,500,000, although 40% of males were still disenfranchised,

    whilst women could not vote
    Between 1885-1918 moves were made by the suffragette movement to ensure votes for women. However, the duration of the First World War stopped this reform movement. See also The Parliamentary Franchise in the United Kingdom 1885-1918.

    Representation of the People Act 1918 – the consequences of World War I convinced the government to expand the right to vote, not only for the many men who fought in the war who were disenfranchised, but also for the women who helped in the factories and elsewhere as part of the war effort. Property restrictions for voting were lifted for men, who could vote at 21; however women’s votes were given with these property restrictions, and were limited to those over 30 years old.

    This raised the electorate from 7.7 million to 21.4 million with women making up 40% of the electorate. Seven percent of the electorate had more than one vote. The first election with this system was the United Kingdom general election, 1918

    Representation of the People Act 1928 – this made women’s voting rights equal with men, with voting possible at 21 with no property restrictions
    Representation of the People Act 1948 – the act was passed to prevent plural voting
    Representation of the People Act 1969 – extension of suffrage to those 18 and older
    The Representation of the People Acts of 1983, 1985 and 2000 further modified voting

    Electoral Administration Act 2006 – modified the ways in which people were able to vote and reduced the age of standing at a public election from 21 to 18.

    Its a History thing of mine!

  2. A history thing of yours……..I can see that.

    I am delighted. 🙂

    I carefully avoided overdoing ‘the facts’ but I was aware of them. You have brought things bang up to date with the Electoral Admin. Act of 2006.

    BTW you mention The Suffragettes, do not forget the Suffragists. They too were very active in a different style. The two groups formed a useful pincer movement. Today, it is the suffragettes who are primarily remembered because of their particular action profile.

  3. You confirm, Tylluan, the female attitude to voting, admittedly a straw poll, nevertheless, one that produces a similar answer each time the question in some form, is raised.

    As for encouraging the amorphous ‘them’, they don’t need encouragement. ‘They’ are full of themselves already.

    As a public voice we have great difficulty being heard on issues that are real to us, and the only power that we have is to vote. However, the choices are not always what people want, so the potential voters feel corralled, they probably are. If voters abstain as a protest, lack of interest, or for other reasons, people are left wide open to charges of inertia and its consequences, plus the possibility of politics of a kind the majority will not want.

    As it is, at local level there is a lot forced upon communities ‘for their own good’ irrespective of what was originally voted for. It is less remote politics and can be more accessible to deal with. Votes should be cast locally too. Those votes, can be a wake-up call for centrally based politicians.

    It is all so complex, on purpose I suspect.

  4. That is not my point Bushka and, so far,only one man has addressed the central tenet of my post, in another forum.

    It is not for me to decide whether we have a literate society of any kind, indeed, I am not in a position to do so.

  5. Of course, democracy as we know it is nothing like democracy as practised in Ancient Athens where every single topic had to have a separate vote. Longwinded and time consuming, maybe, but ultimately the only way to make sure that voters had a say all the way down the line. I hesitate to use the word ‘everyone’ however, since women and slaves did not have a vote.

    Whenever I feel there is nobody worth voting for, I usually spoil my ballot paper and write ‘Mickey Mouse’ or ‘Donald Duck’ on it. At least the powers-that-be then know what I think of them….

  6. I have come across other ballot paper spoilers, male mostly. In one case a new wife tried to ‘civilise’ her husband. He conceded to vote at the last Scottish elections, which were dreadfully confusing with three papers, some as long as a toilet roll, and which led to many unintended spoilt ballot papers.

    The voter’s vote,is called a vote, the spoilt ballot paper is called just that, along with the other thousands. No one party or person, (other than the counter) knows what has been written on the paper, it is just lumped together with all the others. As you probably know, spoilt papers are not always purposeful. Whereas, it is thought that a vote is always purposeful.

    There are a range of further discussions in all of this. I have to say though, I don’t think I could bear the one topic voting system of ancient Athens. We don’t know, I suppose, just how many people were allowed a senate vote. My guess is, that all those eligible, may have arranged for buddy systems and trusted to luck! Even that type of democracy would have been dubious without considering the men who were disenfranchised. Which, neatly takes me back to the core considerations of my post!

  7. I see myself first and foremost as a ‘human being’ then ony secondarily as ‘male’; male and female roles are distinctive and definitive…otherwise we have all things in common…even that which renders each of us a unique human…So! If you’re asking me for an opinion on exercising a ‘vote’..I shall give it as an eligible voting person……One has the right to vote…and the freedom o exercise that right or not…I believe one should exercise the vote according to conscience…if we choose NOT to exercise the vote….we forfeit he right to engage those who have….

  8. I understand what you say, Bushka. Do you think, however, that men, who after all, did not always have the right to vote, would give more thought to their authority, the power of a vote, their right to vote, if they were aware of this relatively recent history?

  9. I doubt that…marginally, perhaps; however, it needs a radial social ‘rethink’ of the place of men in society – still very much biased towards ‘male-dominated’ — There is still this quiet, deep-rooted male perception (and social expectation) of ‘male supremacy’ — might well be a reflection of the ‘natural order’ – to wit, we are all fundamentally ‘animals’!;)

  10. :)) :))

    Your thoughts sound much like some – not totally – Women’s Lib thinking.

    Anyone with a wit, who does not think we are part of the animal kingdom, though a particular order of animal, one called homo sapiens, is living in cloud cuckoo land. :**:

  11. My underlying thinking will approximate to Women’s lib thinking at least some of it…but my thought is non-gender…..
    Oh, I agree with you about homo sapiens…yet there are very many people who cannot countenance the association of humans as Primates…..;)

  12. I vote because of the efforts of others to get me the right, but I am saddened by what I see as a sell out of certain principles I hold dear. perhaps certain politicians need to be reminded of history of their parties? Now there’s a thought…

  13. Neatly said. As for the reminding of the history of all the parties, that could stir up many discomforts.

    In the wee snapshot I have obtained on this subject, it is clear that women do feel more strongly about using their vote than most of the men I have received responses from. Being enlightened that they, too, have a relatively recent history of universal enfranchisement, seems to evince a written male shrug of the shoulders.

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