Giving my vote away

Shahryar Malek explains why he has decided to give his vote in the forthcoming UK election to citizens of Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana
Shahryar Malek
23 March 2010

This election I’ve decided to give my vote to someone else.

Instead of marking an X by the party of my choice I will cast whatever vote someone asks me to. Someone thousands of miles away in one of the many countries at the sharp end of decisions made here.

My vote is important to me and I care passionately about my democratic rights.

So, what could possibly drive me as a young politically aware person to give away my only opportunity to engage in the democratic process?

This is what I had to ask myself when I heard about the Give Your Vote campaign - an initiative asking UK citizens to give their votes to people in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Ghana.

The answer for me is simple. I am doing this because I believe democracy should be for everyone not just the few.

How can we justify a situation where a few governments take decisions that have a massive impact on those living around the world?

I remember being in halls of residence as a student in 2005, waiting all night in the common room with 40 other students to see the results of the 2005 US election, after 4 years in Afghanistan, 2 years in Iraq, there was no way the American people could vote Bush in again. But they could. And they did.

Now I don't live in America and it wasn't my election. But even though I don't live in that house, I'm going to be living by their house rules.

Others may be happy to say “This is just the way it is, we have political and economic power and they don't, it's the way of the World - don't be so naive”.

But this statement just doesn't resonate with me – it’s as if they are saying the world is a static, fixed entity, almost as if we have nothing to do with the way the world is, but I don't believe that, I never have.

We continually sing our world into existence – and if we all, as a collective choir, sing ‘justice for all not just for the few’ – we will sing in a new existence. So for me giving my vote is both symbol and a call to action, to all those who believe in justice, because democracy without justice just doesn't taste the same.

Stop the secrecy: Publish the NHS COVID data deals

To: Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care

We’re calling on you to immediately release details of the secret NHS data deals struck with private companies, to deliver the NHS COVID-19 datastore.

We, the public, deserve to know exactly how our personal information has been traded in this ‘unprecedented’ deal with US tech giants like Google, and firms linked to Donald Trump (Palantir) and Vote Leave (Faculty AI).

The COVID-19 datastore will hold private, personal information about every single one of us who relies on the NHS. We don’t want our personal data falling into the wrong hands.

And we don’t want private companies – many with poor reputations for protecting privacy – using it for their own commercial purposes, or to undermine the NHS.

The datastore could be an important tool in tackling the pandemic. But for it to be a success, the public has to be able to trust it.

Today, we urgently call on you to publish all the data-sharing agreements, data-impact assessments, and details of how the private companies stand to profit from their involvement.

The NHS is a precious public institution. Any involvement from private companies should be open to public scrutiny and debate. We need more transparency during this pandemic – not less.

By adding my name to this campaign, I authorise openDemocracy and Foxglove to keep me updated about their important work.

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