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Explaining who was head of the household; TANNI GREY-THOMPSON.

THIS week I have a student with me on work placement.

It is fairly hard in any job, within a week, to give someone an idea of what it is like.

So far I have taken him to several meetings, which have probably been quite hard going, but he asked intelligent questions and acquitted himself well.

I have remembered to feed him, which is good because when you work odd hours it is too easy to live on biscuits and tea.

In a week I have been trying to explain to him how Parliament works (I have been there nearly six years and I am sure that there are still things I don't know), EU referendum (Scottish referendum), the Bus Service Bill and then we got on to voter registration I explained that when I was a teenager the "head of the household" registered everyone in the house to vote.

As I said it, and looked at his face, I realised that this was a phrase he had never heard of.

Growing up there were things that my dad was in charge of and things that my mum was in charge of.

Mum did all the food shopping apart from going to the butchers, which was what dad did.

I have no idea why being a man made him more qualified to buy meat, but apparently it did.

Maybe it is a bit like men do barbecues and women tidy up the mess.

Dad was in charge of things like house insurance and the family car, and there were lots of things where dad thought he was in charge but it was probably mum.

So it was dad that sat down and told me that I should vote (strongly supported by my gran, who was born in 1900 and had grown up without the right to have a vote or stay in work when she got married).

It was probably my mum that I talked with about how I was going to vote.

I don't believe in compulsory voting; one of the things about living in a democracy is that people should be allowed to choose not to vote.

Registering to vote for the Europe Referendum was always going to be a bit chaotic as people started to realise that they wanted a voice and the technology didn't cope.

I am pleased that the registration was extended to try and sort this out.

Young people are in schools so why not have voter registration there? It failed to get through last year in Wales, but maybe it is time to have another go.

And then we don't have to worry about who is, or who isn't the head of the household.

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Jun 16, 2016
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