Democracy can be hard work, but it's vital not to waste your vote
PUBLISHED: 06:52 12 December 2019 | UPDATED: 08:19 12 December 2019
Democracy is a beautiful thing - and it must be protected and cherished.
Yes we have had four bruising elections in four years - including the Scottish referendum - and there is no doubt fatigue has set in.
There was no great public desire for yet another poll this year - especially in the build up to Christmas.
But here it is. And each and every one of us has a duty to take part.
Every election offers the people a chance to make a difference. A real opportunity for change - or indeed back the status quo.
But this election, more than any in recent history, offers the inevitability of a seismic shift.
This was always billed as the "Brexit election" - and in many respects that has been the case. But the campaign has offered the candidates the chance to talk about lots more besides.
It has been a calmer campaign than many people thought possible in a country so violently divided. And the gaffes and bloopers that so often overshadow the best-laid plans - think Gordon Brown and Gillian Duffy back in 2010 - were largely absent until the prime minister bizarrely grabbed a reporter's phone and the shadow health secretary let his mouth run away with him.
When this election was called this newspaper launched a manifesto for the region. It included numerous pledges candidates were asked to back for the good of the people of Norfolk and beyond.
Our reporters will remind those who are elected in the next 24 hours of those promises in the coming months and years. Because although we would never tell you who to vote for we are duty-bound to demand the very best for the people of our glorious region.
The East of England has been overlooked for too long. Funding for transport has been lacking. Our NHS services - especially for mental health patients - are not good enough. And that is not down to the hard graft of the wonderful people who work in our hospitals, it is down to a lack of funding.
A lot has to change in Norfolk and Waveney. This newspaper is determined to apply pressure to every elected member and insist your voice is heard - not just on polling day but way beyond.
And you can trust us - we report without fear or favour. Our only debt is to you, the people of Norfolk and Waveney.
Earlier this week a picture of a seriously ill four-year-old boy on the floor of a hospital was first printed by the Yorkshire Evening Post. It became one of the major moments of the election campaign.
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But something very worrying happened in the fall out.
A reader of the YEP contacted the paper's editor. She had seen a post on Facebook claiming the picture was set up apparently to damage Boris Johnson and the Conservatives.
In fact the post - since removed and the person behind it disappeared without trace - was the fake.
Regional newspapers like this one deal in trust. Unlike faceless, nameless people on Facebook our reporters check and double check claims that are made to ensure we are not being used by any cause or political movement for their own ends.
That is why you can trust us. Democracy is a beautiful thing - and by remaining impartial the regional press is doing its bit to protect and cherish it. Now it is over to you. This is your chance. I don't care if you are a fervent supporter of Jeremy Corbyn's Labour or a true blue Tory. This newspaper has no interest in whether you voted Leave and Remain.
But we do care that you vote.
If you are illegible and able get into the polling station and make sure your voice is not lost.
However tired you are of politicians making claims they never keep, no matter if you hope never to read another political commentary or if you will scream if another rubbish, fake "newspaper" produced by a political party drops through the letter box ... go vote.
Because actually this is not about Mr Johnson or Mr Corbyn. This is not about Jo Swinson or Nigel Farage.
In countries across the globe people are not allowed to have a dissenting voice - never mind a vote.
For their sake we must not waste ours.
Even during this campaign a terrorist, hell-bent on changing our way of life, killed two people.
For his victims' sake we must not waste our vote.
Democracy can be hard work. It can sometimes appear unfair. But it is up to all of us to protect it.