There’s a pretty dispiriting article on the BBC news website today interviewing five people who won’t be voting in the general election. The reasons are pretty much what you’d expect: it doesn’t change anything, parties break their promises, there’s precious little clear blue water between them and so on. And these things are probably true, but the interviewees are missing a key point.

Voting isn’t about you. It’s about us. All of us.

The interviewees clearly feel that not voting is a neutral act. But it isn’t, because there are parties and candidates espousing policies that are genuinely dangerous to many people. That’s the case in any election, but it’s particularly true now with the far right rising once again. Their supporters, and the people they’ve won over on single issues, will vote. And that could be disastrous for all of us.

In some constituencies, there’s a very real possibility that far right candidates could gain power. But even in relatively safe seats, not voting can have dangerous consequences. If extremist candidates can increase their share of the vote, that can help legitimise them and their views, increasing their visibility, their reach and their power. Just look at what Nigel Farage has wreaked in the UK despite seven unsuccessful attempts to get elected.

I get it, I really do. I’m a trans woman in a UK where far too many candidates are quite comfortable with using us as culture war cannon fodder. But there is still a difference between different parties: Kier Starmer may be utterly spineless when it comes to defending trans people, but his party is not specifically promising to harm us. The Conservatives and Reform are promising exactly that.

The same applies on a much bigger scale for issues such as how we deliver healthcare, how we care for our elderly, what opportunities we create for our children and what we do about a warming planet. The parties and the candidates are not “all the same” when some are hell-bent on making the world worse. If you can’t find it in yourself to vote for something, vote against that.