Friday, 29 May 2009

Why I won't be voting in the General Election

Frank Skinner has written an excellent piece in the Times on voting in general elections and the problems with modern politics. Is definitely bang on and worth a read, here.

With a blog entitled Political Dissuasion, it's not that surprising, but if there was a general election tomorrow, I'd probably not vote.

After reading Doctorvee's latest post, I thought quite hard on the issue and realised that I am no better off if I do - the country isn't, democracy isn't, so why is it a problem not to vote?

"People died for the right to vote"...Shut up. People died supporting racism, doesn't mean I should become a racist.

Not as a result of the expenses scandal (though it firmed my view), but I have always been strongly against the power political parties have over our democracy. These are groups of people out to better their own ends, and do not act in the public interest most of the time. Their priority is their party and as our political system is embedded in a party-based junta. By voting for the one that is the lesser of all ills would be me condoning this form of politics. Ideally, I would vote for the Greens, or Jury Team, but as these candidates will never succeed in the election, there is no point in voting for them.

This is where B-grade politicos will tell me "if everyone thinks like that, then of course they won't get in". But seeing as that is the reality and we all do live in the real world, that in the next year, my vote won't make a difference, I don't have much time for that fairy-assed argument.

I cannot vote for one of the main parties as I believe they are what is wrong with our political system - and as they are the ones in control and will continue to be for such a very long time, the problem will continue. Whether I am becoming cynical in my old age, or just facing up to the reality, I don't know, but I do now accept that it is valid not to vote.

Seriously, why should I? Why is there a ridiculous pressure to vote when more than 50% of people don't care? If turnout is high, then politicians can point to the stats and say "Look, we're valid. And what we're doing is valid." But it's not. The results (Bills, Laws etc) are valid, but the politics of it all is so disconnected from the reality of the electorate that...what's the point? For years turnout has decreased and apart from the odd rumble of "ooh, I wonder why", the parties don't care as this plays into their hands.

Good luck to all of you who believe that what you and/or your party is doing is benefitting democracy and our lives. Unfortunately, I'm not convinced and seeing as you and your party have made British democracy impotent to the common voter, I shan't be voting.


James said...

It's not the strongest argument for a Green vote, I know, but if we're going to win constituencies we'll need to get closer to winning constituencies first, so voting for a losing Green candidate can help in the long term.

Another broader question, perhaps more interesting, would be: under what circumstances would you be voting again? What changes would you need to see first, and are there non-electoral ways to support those changes?

Political Dissuasion said...


Those are damn good questions which I'm sat here trying to answer without looking like a huffy, fingers-in-my-ears child.

I'd vote again under a system similar to AV Plus (even the Scottish Parliament elections are decent enough for my vote to potentially count). I blogged on what I called "weighted voting" similar to AV plus which not only could count all votes, but is more representative nationwide. I'd vote if there was an 'alternative candidate' in my constituency who actually had a decent shot, but the way politics is (and voter apathy), that's never going to happen.

But, sad to say, getting closer to winning a constituency (more votes) in one year, in my view, doesn't get you closer to eventually, actually winning one five years down the line. In SP elections, I will always vote green as 2nd vote, but for Westminster, there really is no point in aiming my vote outside the 'main parties'.
I can also see this problem being firmed up by, and mark my words, it'll happen, state-funding for parties which will cement into our future, the destructive influence of Labour/Tory agendas.

Non electoral ways? Very few that would be effective. Write to my MP? Pah! Start my own party? Pointless. The system is now designed and dumbed down to strengthen the grip of the main players and really can't see how this would change. I could do a variety of things, but do I really want to spend hour upon hour, year after year, chasing a lost cause? I'd rather get on with life and achieve more for myself (and society - e.g. by volunteering) that way.

Stephen Glenn said...

PD you're quite right and the fact is that by in large for most of my politcal life my own vote has not counted for once. Only in the last Council elections, and in council elections in Kingston when I was there has my vote actually got any elected to anything (outwith the party).

Yes the expenses issue is horrid to look at but it is only the tip of the iceberg. You may think that Turkeys don't always vote for Christmas but the Lib Dems did vote for STV at council elections. The effect personally was wiping out the ability to rule alone in Aberdeen and possibly the impact that we could have been the majority voice in Edinburgh too.

Nick Clegg yesterday announced a head to toe reform of our politics at Westminster. A lot of what he said is agreed with by James. People what to have a choice in who to vote for AV+ goes some way to that but not all the way (however I don't see the big two conceding to STV, plus it would need a major redrawing of boundaries before the next election to have iot come to be)

With STV the party dictate the one name that would form you AV seat nor the order of the list for your plus. You decide amongst all the parties that you want in what order. If your first choise doesn't have enough support that vote passing fully unto your next preference. If you choice is overwhealmingly popular a proportion of what he doesn't need goes to those who the people who voted that way of think also wanted in.

If the big two parties don't realise that after recent events I hope that people like yourself who are dissilusioned with the way they treat you vote for the parties that will, to their core, offer such choice in the hands of the voter, whether that is Lib Dem, Green or whoever.

Political Dissuasion said...


I have indeed been impressed by the LibDems recently, with Nick Clegg talking the rare thing called sense (not just on reform and Ghurkas, but on everyday stuff like condemning the Labour policy of 50% of kids going to uni) and I openly admitted my u-turn to applaud what he's been doing recently.

On this issue, the LibDems have been, of the main parties, leading the line. Going back to Ashdown when TB first got into Downing Street, Labour wimped out of promised reform at the last minute because of party pressures, not through a 'greater good' sense.

There are various methods of Government that I think woulld work better in terms of democracy and fairness, but too radical for old-fashioned Blighty to go for.

Yes, I should probably toddle along, vote for a party that believes in a fairer, reformed parliament closer to my views, but the sad fact is, my vote would be more effective if I chose to vote for 'Dipshit Tory', 'Dipshit Labour' or 'Dipshit SNP' because they are the only ones with any possible chance of winning in my constituency.

But the problem is, the current political and electoral systems suit those at the top, and are biased to those at the top and can only be changed by those at the top. Combined with the embarrassing apathy of the nation as a whole, we're lumped with a system we cannot get rid of (while also being lumped with a PM that we didn't elect, don't want, and can't depose - how can we have faith, or even bother when 'the mother of democracies' is being ruled by a small committee's choice?)

I applaud and feel for people in your situation in equal measure. You (and James, and many others alike) are fighting the good fight in the face of near-impossible odds. Maybe that's what makes a truly good politician? But I don't have the same belief that 'one day the sun will shine'. I think that what the expenses scandal has shown is that the public's concerns do not matter. Not one MP has been wide open and said, 'Fair play, I screwed the system and got caught.' They all claim to have been doing what they thought was justified, and these are the people who are supposed to decide our nation's future? It's like getting caught with your dick inside your neighbours wife and saying "I wasn't cheating".

These are the people we are asking to give up control and a sh*t load of income? I lost hope a long time ago.