Don’t vote if you support war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Don’t vote if you support tax evasion by billionaires.
Don’t vote if you support ID cards.
Don’t vote if you support fox hunting.
Don’t vote if you support 90 day detention without charge.
Don’t vote if you support disconnection from the Internet on the basis of accusation.
Don’t vote if you support tax rises and/or cuts to public services.
You get the idea.
The way democracy works in the UK, the election is decided by the biggest voting bloc – the non-voters. Non-voters who elect not to vote are not, in fact, failing to vote – they are casting a vote of “I’m with Stupid”, a vote of “whatever that guy says” – and they are casting that vote loudly. If you decide not to exercise your right to vote, you are directly supporting the minority decision to pick the party that wins – and your vote of confidence in their ability to vote on your behalf is a ringing endorsement of whatever comes next.
The usual complaint from the non-voters is that their vote doesn’t count – that one vote doesn’t matter, that there’s no material difference between the candidates, and so on. However, this is an entirely self-fulfilling prophecy. To demonstrate how wrong these people are, let’s have some fun with maths!
The population of the UK is about 62 million. Of those, at the last General Election, about 44 million were eligible to vote. Under 27 million people DID vote – the rest, about 17.5 million, did not. That’s 17.5 million “my vote doesn’t count for anything” non-voters. How much influence could they have wielded? Well, Labour’s total popular vote was 9.5 million. If one in twenty non-voters had voted Conservative, then the Conservatives would have won. If one in five had voted Liberal Democrat, then the Liberal Democrats would have won. If five in nine had voted Official Monster Raving Loony Party, then OMRLP would have won.
Clearly my numbers are a gross over-simplification, because that’s not how our voting system works – but it goes to show just how powerful the “I’m with Stupid” voting bloc is, and how much influence they could wield if they so chose. If you feel all MPs are the same, then stand for election yourself (there’s a £500 fee, refundable on 5% of votes received). It really doesn’t take many people voting together to overturn even the safest seat – it requires only a removal of apathy by the voters who decide the elections by not casting a vote. And surely, in a population of 62 million, we can find 640 or so individuals who can serve in public office WITHOUT being a corrupt git? Can we really not scrape together 0.001% of the population who are worthy of support?
Oh, and a spoiled ballot is not a vote for “none of the above”, it’s a non-vote. If you want to mix things up, then cast a vote for a third party – even cast it for a joke candidate. Because there really are enough people out there that they could change the landscape of politics completely. Convince just one out of five non-voting friends to vote Lib Dem, for example, and UK politics is changed forever.
So in advance of the voter registration deadline next week, and the General Election in May, think about what matters or doesn’t matter to you. And remember, if you really support the 2-party duopoly, then don’t vote.