Following the Article 50 debate in parliament the last few days, and also having a chat to a couple of friends, I have really begun to wonder why I vote at all, esp in Westminster elections.
The quality of the debate overall was very poor with a few exceptions, on an SNP amendment the SNP were only called to speak 3 times in something like 10 hours, and I suffered numerous red and blue Tories basically telling SNP elected Members of Parliament to sit down and shut up with the usual double standards of the speaker’s chair, it was all so predictable but also very depressing.
Then I thought about the way that MSPs are elected with the additional member system meaning that we end up with a lot of career politicians who never actually win an election and many of whom are pretty rubbish. A system designed to ensure that there is rarely a majority and one that was intended to keep the SNP out.
In local election we have the single transferable vote system designed to achieve proportional representation through ranked voting in multi-seat constituencies, again another system that ensures that many candidates are elected in third place or worse and candidates that no one really wanted in the first place. I accept that some people feel this system is more representative of the actual views of the electorate but that only works if you can end the stupid petty party conflicts that also take place in local authorities, again all very predictable and depressing.
One of my friends made a couple of good points when I told him that I was considering withholding my vote in the up and coming local elections due to my lack of faith in any of the politicians to really represent the electorate, now I know that voting is important and have always taken the view that people should always vote. My mood was reflecting in my reasoning but this did not take away the fact that right now I am pretty much sick of most of what I hear from politicians of all parties and recently have little faith in any of them to do what is right.
Now politicians can only govern with the consent of the people, but we also know that millions and millions of people don’t vote for a variety of reasons, over a third of eligible voters in the last election did not vote. Some people spoil their paper as a means of protest but does that really reflect an opinion and even Tony Benn noted “ More and more people are concluding that the ballot box is no longer an instrument that will secure political solutions”.
Not voting in Westminster Elections has a strong appeal to me in the current climate, Westminster has become more and more a not for viewers in Scotland Parliament and if we send no one to Westminster then consent has been removed and Westminster would have no mandate over Scotland at all, extreme, but who knows maybe worth while to get the point across.
There is also the NOTA campaign and I agree that none of the above should be on every ballot paper, abstaining (as Labour frequently do) or spoiling your ballot paper is not a political protest, it would just be me not taking part in the political process but NOTA would be a way of withholding consent from politicians that I have no faith in and who do not serve the interests of the electorate in it’s widest sense, they pander to the small minority and themselves in too many cases.
NOTA is currently not on the ballot paper right now so not an option for the May elections so I have a dilemma, right now none of the candidates in my area really appeal at all and I don’t like STV and multi-member wards at all. I would much rather have proper PR as a true reflection of the vote. If I do decide to vote, and not just spoil my ballot paper, it will only be because here in Dundee we would end up with a coalition of the unionist parties and Dundee has suffered enough over the years and doesn’t need more of that but right now, across the board, I am uninspired by politics in this country and the direction of travel.
We often hear about radical politics, esp around the rise of Jeremy Corbyn but is he really radical at all. Maybe radical politics is actually real Social Liberalism, maybe we actually need to really accept that unemployment, Ill health, disability, educational attainment and poverty need to be addressed at a political level, by a party willing to actually do that, the problem is that party does not exist in the UK at this time.