Guest column: Right to vote is a privilege for us all

Coun Jo White
Coun Jo White

February 6 will mark the 100th anniversary of the Representation of the People Act.

Among a range of electoral reforms included in this Act, it gave 8.4 million women over the age of 30 the right to vote for the first time, as well as all men over the age of 21. 

This landmark Act of Parliament had only come about following years of campaigning from the Suffrage movement.

I don’t know if I would have been brave enough to wear the colours of purple, green and white and joined with the Suffragettes in their fight for the right for women to vote, but I certainly hope that I would have been. 

Many damaged their health or suffered life changing injuries in this battle.

And one woman, Emily Davison, famously lost her life after falling under the King’s horse at the Epsom Derby.

The bravery and commitment of these women must never be forgotten.

And having the right to vote is a privilege that should be valued by women everywhere.

I clearly remember the first time I voted, in the 1983 General Election.

I was aged 19 and had returned to the town that I grew up in.

I walked to the polling station that had served as my Sunday school in my younger years and proudly placed a cross in the box of my choice.

This very personal action gave me a strong interest in the final outcome and meant that I was glued to the TV throughout the night as the results poured in and the political pundits spun their webs.

That night I was determined to join the party that I have worked hard for and supported ever since.

For me, being able to vote means having my say about what’s happening locally and nationally.

Every vote counts as losing or winning an election can sometimes be determined by a single vote. 

As an elected councillor I value every vote that has been cast because it represents the voice of the electorate and is it my job is to ensure that those voices are heard at the council.   

We’ve certainly come a long way since 1918 and Bassetlaw is leading the way with almost equal representation across the political make-up of the council.

Of the 48 councillors, 23 are women.

This also extends to the political leadership with four women being part of the cabinet, in addition to having a female chairman and a lady Mayor of Retford for this year. 

We are proud to be supporting the #Vote100 campaign that celebrates the centenary of this incredibly important act.

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