‘Every vote will count in this election’

Christina McAnea urges LGBT+ delegates to ensure that people are registered to vote next month

“Every vote will count in this election” and we need to persuade people to register to vote – and to register for a postal vote. It’s crucial to “get that message out in the workplace, to family and friends.”

UNISON assistant general secretary Christina McAnea (pictured above) was addressing the union’s LGBT+ conference in Bournemouth this morning, with less than a month to go before the general election.

She stressed that research shows that UNISON and its reps are trusted by the membership – and because of that, they have the potential to make a real difference when polling stations open.

After all, she said, while “the Women’s Institute has 220,000 members, UNISON has over 200,000 disabled members, over 150,000 Black members, over a million women members.”

The outcome of the election “will affect us all for at least the next five years” noted Ms McAnea and suggested that nobody should trust anything Prime Minister Boris Johnson promises, since he is “a man with no respect for democracy, who lies constantly”.

She shared with them how, while waiting to be interviewed at a Conservative Party conference a while ago, she’d seen Mr Johnson deliberately ruffle his hair before going on camera, noting that his bluster and jovial image was all carefully cultivated.

Ms McAnea went on to remind them of the cuts that Mr Johnson’s own Conservative Party – in government for almost 10 years – has made; its attacks on working people, the poor and disabled, that have seen life expectancy decline as foodbank use and poverty have increased.

It was also vital to remember the attacks on public services and those that provide those vital services, she said. If the Conservatives win next month, then they will continue to attack public sector pay and pensions.

“That’s the Tory legacy and that’s the legacy that we must continue to remind people of,” the assistant general secretary said, before asking, angrily: “How dare they pretend to be the people of working people?”

Looking back to her own childhood on an estate in Glasgow, Ms McAnea recalled that, on election nights, “whenever the Tories were elected, my mother would cry,” saying that “the Tories only look after their own”.

“It’s still true today.”

If you have not already done so, you need to register by 11:59pm on 26 November to vote in the general election on 12 December.

If you want to apply to vote by post, register before 5pm on 26 November if you live in England, Scotland or Wales, and 5pm on 21 November if you live in Northern Ireland.

Find out more at www.unison.org.uk/register-vote-general-election/

At an earlier meeting at conference, delegates had discussed the importance of ensuring people were registered to vote.

They noted that it was important that students knew that they could vote at home or where they were studying. It was also important that people knew about proxy voting for adults who were not able to go to the polling booths themselves.

Registering for a postal vote is vital if, for instance, your work might make it difficult to get to work in person on 12 December, but also for the elderly and others who might find the winter weather and short days will make it more difficult to get out.

And one delegate made the interesting point that, when discussing the election with others, it was not worth spending time rebutting false claims about policies or individuals, since research showed that people were more likely to remember the false claim than the rebuttal.