Tuesday, April 05, 2005


In the past I've always believed that I should vote, and that spoiling the ballot paper was far more preferable to not even bothering to turn up. The spoiled papers are counted as such, sometimes this figure being announced by the returning officer. Most importantly it gives me a sense of satisfaction to write 'None Of The Above - Thanks', 'Tony Blair is a syphilitic goat shagger' or 'Al Gore - Florida 2000' on the paper. Maybe I'll make some poor tired vote counter smile, it certainly gives me more satisfaction than knowing that the green party or communist party candidate would only have had 57 votes and not 58 without my support. My dream would be to have the comments on the spoiled papers read out by the returning officer or even have the papers displayed (in a Tony Heart style 'gallery' complete with naff music) before the real results are announced. There would be real incentive for people to creatively spoil their paper.

And why should I not spoil my paper?

Unless you are lucky enough to live in one of the few marginal constituencies in this country it really doesn't matter who you vote for in a first past the post election such as the general election. Then there's the problem that real politics is dead, real idealistic politics that is. Socialism has lost to Capitalism, the market is king, and thanks to globalisation there's nothing much you can do about this. Our economy is tightly controlled, and nobody who is elected has much power to change anything fundamental, they can just manage and tinker, then market and present their management style to the voters.

Democracy at a national level in this country is just one big con that people tell you you should be grateful to have and try to make you feel guilty if you say otherwise. They tell you people fought, chained themselves to railing and died so that you may have the vote. Well they didn't fight and die for this! They didn't fight and die to give us a choice between a party that will privatise anything that's not nailed down but be embarrassed about it, verses a party that will privatise anything that's not nailed down and be proud of it. They didn't fight and die to give us a choice between a party that says it won't raise income tax, but raises other taxes or invent new ones, verses a party that says it won't raise income tax and will cut red tape, but will raise other taxes or invent new ones. They didn't fight to give us the choice between a party who says they will make things a bit better and ban smacking, verses one who says they will sterilize all gypsies and give hospital matrons the power to shut down entire cities.

They fought and died because there was Fascism and Communism; there were choices between the individual and the society, selfishness and collectivism, the market and Socialism, privatisation and nationalisation; choices between Liberalism and personal freedoms or conservatism and security. They fought and died to allow us to vote for the welfare state and the national health service; then for privatisation, the culling of the unions and the power of the co operations. They fought and died to make sure that when a government lied to it's people and took the country to war against majority opinion, at least that government could be held accountable and voted out in due course.

So now I'm rethinking my decision to always vote. If I do turn up to vote (even if just to spoil my paper) then this just gives the whole sorry process credibility, it justifies the politicians heightened state of importance when all they are at a national level are slaves to global market forces. It also gives credibility to the flawed first-past the post system, where important but unfortunately marginal issues (such as green issues) will never be given proper representation in the government in proportion to the voter's interest in them, and where disproportionate representation is given to issues that are of concern to those people in the marginal constituencies. It probably is worth voting based upon local issues and the effectiveness of your local MP, but unfortunately the voting system ties this in with the national vote for government and it is this national vote that is the real reason for voting in a general election.

If I don't turn up then what happens? I make my mark on the low voter turn-out, make my statement that way, and maybe some day in the future when the turn out drops to 20%, something will change. If I was in a more marginal constituency that was typically Labour, I'd be in the company of many traditional Labour supporters who wouldn't vote for any other party, but just couldn't bring themselves to vote for a party lead by Tony Blair. Maybe, just maybe, Labour would loose the seat as a result of the stay at home supporters, and if this happens enough then maybe we'd get a hung parliament.

Now a hung parliament would really be something different, and anything must be better than what we have had for the last seven years. Breaking Tony's dictatorship over his party without having to suffer the Tories (please God not the Tories). He'd have to resign, Brown would take over, the Lib Dems would demand proportional representation in exchange for their support, political debate may come alive again and next election I'm offered a real choice and a real chance I can influence something.

I'm still a floating voter. I'd vote for a hung parliament if I could, failing that I'll just write 'hung parliament' across my ballot paper or vote for apathy and not bother to turn up.

Political debate from Futurama:

[One of the candidates, Jack Johnson, begins the debate.]

Johnson: [on TV] It's time someone had the courage to stand up and say: "I'm against those things that everybody hates".

[The other candidate is John Jackson.]

Jackson: [on TV] Now I respect my opponent. I think he's a good man but, quite frankly, I agree with everything he just said!

Fry: These are the candidates? They sound like clones. [He looks a little harder.] Wait a minute. They are clones!

Leela: Don't let their identical DNA fool you. They differ on some key issues.

Johnson: [on TV] I say your three cent titanium tax goes too far.

Jackson: [on TV] And I say your three cent titanium tax doesn't go too far enough!

Fry: If I were registered to vote, I send these clowns a message by staying home on election day and dressing up like a clown.

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