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Saturday, May 07, 2011



Thinking About: Voting

We had elections here on Thursday and for the first time since I started voting in 1979 I almost decided not to cast my vote. A bit of background might explain this.

Back in the late 70’s when I was young and politically na├»ve I voted Conservative believing at the time that they stood for freedom and individuality. Yes, I’m sorry to say that I helped in a small part to bring Margaret Thatcher into power – sorry about that. Anyway, as I grew older and more world experienced (or world wary) I realised that the Conservative ideology stood behind those in power and for the protection of the wealthy. So I switched my allegiance to the Labour Party who where, back then, Socialists. Although I didn’t agree with everything they stood for I agreed with enough of it – indeed the majority – to give them my vote on a regular basis. Of course in those years they were mostly in opposition because Socialism wasn’t exactly popular. But they stuck to their guns and I admired them for putting principle before power. So when Tony Blair’s government came to power I, along with all of the Left, rejoiced – only to find out to our horror that we hadn’t elected a Socialist government at all but had instead installed a Tory government in all but name. Needless to say I despised them for what they had done – abandoning their ideals in order to form a government. I found that I could not in all conscience vote for them and haven’t since.

So, for the past decade or more I have voted Liberal-Democrat. At last, I reasoned, I had found a party of principle who openly opposed the Iraq War and believed as I believed….. Or so I thought. When they joined the Conservative Party coalition I had certain misgivings but the killer for me was when they went back on their promise to abolish student fees. Going back on a very public pledge was bad enough in itself but to add insult to injury they tried to justify themselves to the public by basically stating that principles are OK when you’re in opposition but once in power you have to be reasonable and pragmatic about things. In other words it’s OK to have principles as long as you are not expected to stand by them. Despite the fact that this particular policy has zero effect on me I was revolted by their complete about-face on the issue proving to me, and lots of other people, that they too are a party without principles who will abandon their ideals when it is pragmatically prudent to do so. At this point I was a hairsbreadth away from giving up on all politicians and sure that I would never vote again.

Two things however prompted me to stop off at my polling station on the way to work on Thursday. One was that I wanted to vote in the Alternative Vote referendum – I voted Yes. The other was to register my protest at the duplicity of all political parties. To do this I ‘spoiled’ my vote by writing NO after every candidate’s name. It was a pointless gesture as gestures go but a heartfelt one. I will continue doing this – or variations thereof – as long as I feel this way. It’s either that or not vote at all which I’m unwilling to do. Most people, I suspect, don’t vote through apathy. I’m not voting (for any of those lying bastards) through anger.

Oh, and rather gratifyingly the Liberal-Democrats were crucified in the local elections losing 695 council seats so far. It warmed my heart, it really did. A curse on all their houses!  

7 comments:

wunelle said...

Forgive me my repetition, but I have gone to the polls pretty much every time for 25 years to cast a negative vote: I'm doing what I can to keep some disaster out of office. I rarely have positive enthusiasm for anyone; my enthusiasm for Obama was almost entirely that he wasn't W (though at the time I think I found a bit more to like. Still, I was wary and with good reason).

I have no expectation by now that people in political office can keep their priorities straight. I think the pressure to corrupt and the nature of the compromises required to keep the machinery moving are too dispiriting.

dbackdad said...

Especially here in Arizona, my vote is a negative vote as our state legislature and national Senators are entrenched Republicans.

I do wish our system of government had more viable parties like England ostensibly does. As embarrassing as it is to call oneself a Democrat, it's even more so to call oneself a Republican. I actually tend to call myself a Progressive who primarily votes Democratic. If I thought a Green Party candidate could win, I'd vote for them in a minute.

I do always vote and feel it's even more important in the off-years as the local politics affect you more directly and vice-versa.

smellincoffee said...

I know how you feel about Thatcher. When I was eighteen, I...voted to reelect Bush. I was a young-earth creationist at the time, so I made a lot of mistakes.

TF said...

You're quite right, of course.
I can't really add much to your post, seeing as you pretty much summed up my own views on politics and voting perfectly.

All I can say is good show and I'm with you 100% :)

CyberKitten said...

wunelle said: I have gone to the polls pretty much every time for 25 years to cast a negative vote: I'm doing what I can to keep some disaster out of office.

I've voted tactically a few times to try and get out of office an incumbent idiot or in an attempt to stop someone getting in (only favouring the person I voted for slightly more) but I always prefer to vote for something rather than against it - not that its always possible to do so!

wunelle said: I have no expectation by now that people in political office can keep their priorities straight.

I too have *finally* come to that opinion. It's a real shame though that we can't rely on our politicians to do at least what they say they're going to. It's probably naive of me but if they are *all* a bunch of lying bastards what are we supposed to do with them?

dbackdad said: If I thought a Green Party candidate could win, I'd vote for them in a minute.

We had our first Green MP elected here recently in Brighton. I'll be voting Green from now on whenever they appear on the ballot paper.

sc said: I was a young-earth creationist at the time, so I made a lot of mistakes.

I think we've both come a long way from those early days of youthful naivety..

TF said: All I can say is good show and I'm with you 100% :)

Thanks!

Vancouver Voyeur said...

You know how politics gets me going. Is it too much to ask for people to do the right thing for the people who voted for them and trusted them to do a good job? Apparently. This is how the Tea Party started over here, people getting sick and tired of nobody listening to them, so they finally ran themselves and got seats. Unfortunately for me, although I admire the gumption of these folks to be proactive, I am soooo opposed to just about everything else they stand for that I think they're actually doing more harm than good. Now if only the liberal left could form a counter to the Tea Party, I guess that would be the Green Party or some such thing over here, but they don't really have much impact on national politics from what I've seen. Too bad your "no" votes can't take votes away from these people.

CyberKitten said...

v v said: Too bad your "no" votes can't take votes away from these people.

Now isn't *that* a great idea!