Matthew Munson: Election thoughts, half term and a university perk

Matthew and Bryan

It seems likely that we’re heading for an election in the next months or so, and you might think me sad when I admit this, but I actually enjoy general elections.

I’m fascinated by all the discussions, debates, and ideas that come out during the campaign, and even during the lead-up to it over the next few months, it’s going to be interesting to see how it all pans out. I’ll be trying to share my interest in the process with my son, but who knows if he’ll feel quite the same way. He’ll be able to vote in six years, so I want to make sure he’s informed enough about the process to be confident in making a choice that he feels is right.

But, that’s a few years away; I like to plan ahead, that’s for sure. This week has been rather manic; I couldn’t go to university on Friday because I wasn’t feeling quite right, so I stayed at home feeling suitably sorry for myself. I’ll be back next week, though, and I’ve realised how much I’ve missed it already, even after just a couple of weeks. I had some constructive criticism from one of my lecturers – supportive, thoughtful, and giving me a couple of different points of view, which I really appreciated. I can think about that and use it to make my writing better – which is the point of my course, in my view. To become a better writer – not a perfect one, because that wouldn’t be possible, but simply better than I was twenty / ten / five years ago (or even last week).

A little perk of being a student at a university in Canterbury is that I get free entry into Canterbury Cathedral. I’m not religious, but I love the building for its history and its architecture, and I took Bryan there when restrictions eased after the first lockdown. As you might imagine, I have some fond memories of the building. This weekend (today, if you’re reading this on Sunday when it’s published), I’m taking Bryan over to the cathedral to explore its history and beauty. I get to spend some time with my son, and we get to learn some history – bliss!

There’s actually something I wanted to get opinions on from those who read my weekly musings. During half-terms, Bryan often goes to a holiday club for a couple of days while I work, but sadly it’s not opening during the October half-term. I’d like to give Bryan a couple of different options for when I need to work for a couple of days in the last full week of October (23rd to 29th October). I thought it might be nice to share any local activities that were happening during half-term anyway, so if you know of anything going on for pre-teens (or any age, to be fair, as it might be nice to share information for all parents), then please do share  – and I might beg, borrow, and steal one or two of the ideas to present to Bryan!

Being a single parent is something of a juggling act, and I know I have dropped the ball now and then. I’ve got cross or grumpy when I shouldn’t have done, I’ve been in a rush when I should have slowed down and thought things through just a little bit more … but I like to think I’m like most other parents in that we all make mistakes and all try to make up for those mistakes when they happen.

I really enjoy Bryan’s company; he’s great to spend time with. I know he’s my son, and so of course I’ll say that, but it’s true. He is a forgiving soul, and when I’ve dropped below my best, I am thankful he forgives and moves on. He’s a brilliant young man, my twelve-year-old son, and I’ll always do the best by him.

Enjoy your weekends, everyone – I’ll be spending my Sunday immersed in history and sunshine over in Canterbury, which can’t be a bad way to spend a beautiful day.


  1. Elections are a sham. Political parties are a sham. Look at what we have. All party leaders are fraudsters and say whatever they think gets them votes. This is dishonesty. Local elections are as bad if not worse. Local candidates rarely possess the skills for the job. Who are they, anyway? I know none of them which is why I do not vote. Elections, folks, are nothing more than popularity contests not to be considered anything else.

  2. I will not bother next election, my apathy is huge. If I find some energy I might turn up to spoil my ballot. 🗳

  3. I assume ‘Sparky’ and ‘Robert Edwards’ have some answers,if so lets hear them.Put yourselves up for election. Don’t moan,act!
    I recall one of you declaring for Reform,but perhaps you have recanted.
    We have a first past the post voting system,which means that the lowest common denominator order to win power unfortunately,one must to some extent trim to changing circumstances,but there has to be a core belief.
    The argument between the right wing ‘small government’ethos leading to low taxation but also low levels of public services, versus the collectivist approach of Swedish style public services with Swedish levels of tax.
    The people who suggest that you can have the former but not the latter are proposing a fraudulent manifesto,but that does not make them fraudsters,just deluded.
    The constant attempts to reduce taxation, especially for the better off,only creates more divisions and harms public services.
    We are back in a cycle of stop-go disinvestment and the fiasco over HS2 is an example of what short term thinking overreaching long term policymaking achieves.
    No one is happy. The UK is left with an expensive extension to Cross rail rather than a new main line. The construction industry is in pieces,the north rightly feels done down and distrustful of the replacement schemes,and worst of all the UK looks like a place where large projects are impossible to complete.
    So,hold your nose,pick the candidate that is nearest in representing your opinions and vote.

  4. To those who don’t vote you are the reason we end up with the wasters we have today in our so called government. You are the reason we have had 13 years of mayhem. It matters not who you vote for but just get off your bum and vote. You have a mind of your own for gods sake use it. Just remember that the owners of the lying filthy Tories media live outside the U.K. in tax havens so the love to destabilise the U.K. in any way they can that’s why they backed lying Boris Johnson.

  5. Wake up and smell the coffee. The conservative governments have literally robbed the taxpayers of the United Kingdom billions upon billions upon billions of pounds over the years they have sold off public land and services stolen council houses sold off all utilities. They subsidising private companies to make an appalling job of running the railways, they’re allowing private companies to pollute the seas and rivers with sewage, and there are idiots who will actually vote for these thieves at the next election. Shame on them and shame on those who vote for them. Realistically you either vote for the thieving Tories or you vote for labour. All the other parties are just dreamers.

  6. Bill says, get off your bum and vote. I remember a slogan painted on the walls of South London in the 1980s and it read “If voting changed anything they would abolish it”. An indictment of this system that elects useless people.
    Don’t tell us what we should do or try to blame us for the state of affairs. It is you people who believe voting can change anything that are the cause of all this rot.
    Our system of party politics is not fit for purpose. It is not democracy because democracy means rule by all the people. This is not rule by all the people. It is rule by incompetence.

  7. The Conservative membership have a lot to answer for it was they
    who voted for Johnson and then Truss. The voters should choose the person to be prime minister not a load of has-beens who think they know it all when they know nothing.

    • The problem with anyone who votes is that we do not who we are voting into the system. We are not connected to them because these candidates are connected to political parties to which they owe their loyalties. Not to us but to the party.
      How much longer are we to be used by these people whose allegiance is to a political party? Don’t vote is my call.

  8. So tell us what you will do that all these ‘useless’ people can’t or won’t do.
    I suspect you like so many people are rightly appalled at what your usual party of choice has done,but you cannot bear to vote for anyone else.So on the day of the election rock up to the polling station and write none of the above on the ballot paper.
    You will have done your duty and given your verdict.
    Our job as citizens is to give that verdict.if we don’t you can be sure they will remove the right to vote under some pretext or another.

    • I do not have my “usual party of choice” because I reject the party political system. They do not represent the people, only their party structures which are their priority. I would not even enter a polling station for whatever reason because it would not serve any purpose. I prefer to shun them. Voting is a waste of time.

  9. Robert if none of us voted for anyone all that would happen is the rich and powerful would form a dictatorship like they have in China or Russia anybody who dares to oppose them would be bumped off or jailed at least by voting, we are putting in some kind of government in charge us who we can vote out and not a dictatorship which would have even more crooks in it.

  10. Robert, I think your non voting tendency says more about you than the system you decry so much.
    You won’t tell us what change is necessary and you refuse to carry out your duties as a citizen.I can only conclude you are one of those people who shun society and refuse to socialise with others.You can hardly complain about the state of the world if you don’t engage with society.Things aren’t perfect,who said they were,but complaining from the sidelines and not engaging won’t make change happen.

  11. One way to show your dissatisfaction is to spoil your vote. Properly spoilt votes are actually counted towards the election whereas if you simply don’t vote, that counts for nothing.
    Spoiling your vote can be achieved by not voting for anyone or voting for every candidate. In the link attached you can see examples of how NOT to spoil your vote.

  12. Get out and vote. Common people spilled blood to win the right to do so. The rich and powerful held sway over us all until universal suffrage was finally gained, after huge effort. They and their political party, the Tories (who else) fought tooth and nail to prevent it and any other reform (the state pension, the NHS) introduced by more progressive parties to help our own people. We’d possibly still be living in an early 19th century Jacob Rees Mogg wonderland of highland clearances, potato famines, and transportation for stealing a loaf of bread or forming a trade union, had we not finally embraced our very imperfect brand of democracy, and the people gained a little power. So again, get out and vote. Vote tory if you do still genuinely believe they are the party of government, represent stability and know what they’re doing. But if you really do think “they’re all the same”, and Labour, the Lib Dems, the Greens, are as bad as the party that brought us unnecessary austerity, has dragged the NHS to its knees, sold off our north sea oil, railways, power and water to foreign companies whilst claiming to “take back control” from the EU, and given us Brexit, sewage in our seas and rivers, Boris Johnson, partygate, Liz Truss and the near collapse of the economy with resulting higher mortgages, expenses scandals, Suella Braverman,the cost of living crisis, half baked and confected culture wars, the housing crisis, and lie after lie after lie, then perhaps you better had stay at home, or spoil your vote.

  13. Don’t tell me to go out and vote. It is my choice if I believe the entire system is a fraud and you electors are dupes. The same old main parties, assisted by the mainstream press, monopolise the electoral playing field so that the choice of candidates is limited.
    I don’t subscribe to any of these parties because I don’t feel they truly represent the people as a whole. The labour party has betrayed its socialist origins and the Tories are the party of business, opposed to the working class who they view as inferior creations. The Liberal Democrats are a mish-mash of corrosive elements that defy the idea there are only two genders. I want nothing to do with any of them. So I don’t vote.
    I am certainly not going to vote for candidates of which I know little. I am certainly not so gullible as to swallow the guff on election addresses.
    So stop telling me voting is a duty and that soldiers died in two world wars so that we have all these wonderful freedoms. Freedoms to be homeless, to be unemployed and to go hungry while illegal migrants are put up in hotels. Wake up and smell the coffee … if you can afford it.

  14. Robert, I wasn’t telling you personally to go out and vote. As I suggested, if you think all political parties are the same, then you should stay at home and not vote. That’s your right too. I was appealing
    to the less world weary people out there that however little difference it may make, it’s all we have. I do however appreciate your cynicism, and often feel the same way myself. Take Back Control, the great brexit slogan, was a case in point. National Sovereignty was a valid anti EU argument often put forward by that old lefty, Tony Wedgwood Benn, as well as all the regular “swivel eyed loons”, as David Cameron referred to brexiteers. And when we left the EU, what control did we, the voters, get back? A chance to vote every five years for a government in the first past the post system. In 2019, if MPs selected were divided into votes cast, 26,000 votes got an SNP Member of Parliament, 38,000 a Tory, 50,000 a Labour, 800,000 got one Green MP, and 600,000 UKIP voters didn’t get Farage a single seat. An awful system. But all the rest of us can do to change it is keep voting. Something might give one day. Not in my lifetime, as it didn’t for the Levellers, the Diggers, the Chartists, those who died peacefully demonstrating for change in the Peterloo Massacre of 1819 (it was those brave souls to whom I was referring, not just the lads who fought in the wars, my dad being one). But the suffragettes succeeded in changing things, so there’s always hope!

  15. You can enter Canterbury Cathedral free anyway. You tell the foreign acne-faced school-leaver zealously guarding the entrance, that you are going in to pray. So go in and say a prayer, and you will have kept your word.

  16. It is not that I think all parties are the same. It is more that I think they are out of date and of little meaning.
    It amazes me you think this is the only system that we should have. I say, abolish all political parties in favour of something more representative. Have candidates that represent occupations, professions or even gender (only two genders, please), and have a second chamber composed of scientists, economists and other experts. Not this House of Lords full of old farts with absurdly antiquated titles. Turf them all out and have a bonfire of their ermine cloaks.
    I refuse to participate in a system composed of political parties with their tit-for-tat Punch and Judy game. For it is nothing more than a game to fool you there is something positive going on. It is all a sham. Away with it.

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