I have to return the Senior Cat's postal voting pack next week. I wish he was here to use it because by far the best candidate is not likely to win. He knew about her and spoke enthusiastically about her. He didn't tell me how he wanted to vote but I have no doubt that she would have been number one on his ballot paper.
Inevitably such things were being discussed before a meeting I had to attend. When I mentioned that I was going to return the voting pack someone turned to me and said, "Why didn't you use it? Nobody would have known. We could have had another vote for ...."
I almost got up and left. Perhaps I should have done. The very notion that I would be prepared to use a vote to which I am not entitled made me very, very angry. I am all too aware that the votes of vulnerable people can be "stolen" by others. It is one reason why I have spent time with some of those vulnerable people trying to ensure that they vote according to their wishes. I may not like "the person with the red hair" or "that one because he looks nice" or "she's pretty" or some other equally, to me, strange reason but it is their vote and they have the right to choose. If they insist on invalidating their vote by not having me fill out the ballot paper correctly then that is their affair too. I can do no more than explain the process and do my utmost not to influence them.
But this person seemed to think it was a perfectly reasonable thing to do. I think others present agreed with her. They would have used the vote and then informed the Electoral Commission that the person was deceased. That the person was deceased before the papers were even delivered would have been beside the point as far as they were concerned. If questioned I am sure they would have found a way of saying, "It wasn't me. I didn't do that."
Then there was the assumption that I would have used the vote for a particular candidate. I suppose I should have expected it from that particular person. Her politics are far left. She has been campaigning fiercely and for weeks for her candidate of choice. That anyone would choose not to vote for her candidate of choice infuriates her. How could anyone not choose this person?
I found myself getting increasingly uncomfortable. Tactics were discussed - ways of "getting the message across".
"Of course it's a lie but that's the way it is done. They don't deserve anything but lies being told to them," I was told, "Most people never know the difference. We tell them what we want them to hear and they believe it."
This is all too likely to be true.
The meeting started. I said very little. At the end of it I spoke quietly to the woman who chairs the group and told her I would not be coming back. She tried to argue with me but I told her what had happened and how I felt I could not work with people who held those views. She sighed and told me she felt the same concerns as I did.
"I don't want to lose your input. Give it some thought over the weekend," she told me, "Let me know on Monday."
I won't change my mind. I will be quietly prowling off. There are other perfectly legitimate ways of working on the problems we were working on. It might take a bit more work on my part but I think the outcomes might be better.