Okay, the deadline for voter registration has passed. If your name isn’t on the list, then you can’t come in. Not that I have any influence, but I wouldn’t have posted this piece before that deadline, for fear of discouraging anyone. But now I’m in the clear. So I can say this..
My vote is worthless.
I have had the fortune/misfortune(?) to live in two very safe Tory seats in my life. Very safe, double digit majority safe. In one of them, in 2005 the Lib Dem’s did manage to get it under 10%, but we all know what happened to the Lib Dem’s then. Besides, in 2005 I was already living in North East Cambs. constituency. And here in the sunny Fens we gave the Tories a massive 32.6% margin in 2015, and that was over UKIP in second.
Now, apart from my oft repeated dislike of poseur hipsters, you may not be surprised to learn I am not a right wing kind of bloke. Yes, I am white, middle aged, straight and male, but that doesn’t mean I eat from the right side of the plate. So I will never, ever, vote Tory or even worse, UKIP. So every general election, I clutch my voting card and shiny eyed go to the polling station and place my tick in a box for a candidate who most definitely should not give up the day job. I might as well write a witty haiku or an amusing illustration of pigs at a trough in protest instead for all the good it does. In fact, I think the only time I have had a winning candidate was in a town election when I voted for an independent. (Rather than Tory or UKIP again)
Little Bloke, bless ‘im, has had the lecture on the important of democracy and voting from me many times. But it is all said with the same sincerity as lecturing on the importance of eating vegetables when we’re tucking into a meat feast pizza. In my heart I know it’s pointless.
So what’s the problem? Voter turn out for one. I imagine there are many people who feel like me, but who don’t turn out to vote because they know it’s not going to change anything. What you’d call a self fulfilling prophecy I guess. But then, from polling data of those who don’t vote they usually find the ‘non’ votes are split largely along the same proportions of those that did vote. They aren’t all stay at home Labour voters for instance.
So, do we make voting compulsory, like in Australia? I think there is a good argument for it. For a start it would mean the parties would have to seek the votes of all ages and demographics, not just the ones who do tick the boxes. If they knew young people were headed to the ballot in droves they might not lean policies so heavily towards the grey pound.
Secondly, the bete noir that the Lib Dem’s sold their soul for, nobody understood, and fell flat…Proportional Representation. Under the ‘First Past The Post’ system you end up with people like me whose vote is worthless. At least with PR it might actually mean something. Remember the belly aching after the last election, when UKIP had something stupid like 3,900,000 votes and only returned one MP. Now, as much as I hate UKIP, when nearly 10% of the voting population express a choice and only return 0.16% of Parliament, then that is a deeply skewed (and possible ‘screwed’ system) But hey, at least the media give them as much coverage as the major parties, so that’s okay. Under PR we’d have a much more diverse Parliament, with the minor parties getting a more visible presence and having slightly more influence on the governing of the country.
But, if you think that’s bad, look at the Electoral College in the U.S for an example of wasted votes. Texas. A huge state, massively diverse, from desert to cities, to border posts and coastline. I may grumble (and I will thank you very much) about being in a constituency where 50,000 people voted and 21,000 didn’t get their voices heard. But in Texas over 4,000,000 didn’t! Texas’s whole 38 electoral votes went to Trump. Now, if that isn’t a system crying out for reform I don’t know what is.
Of course, the other benefit of being essentially dis-enfranchised is that I don’t have to make the effort to follow the campaign or muse on the policies. And that frees up a lot of time, spares a lot righteous anger (and saves the rest of the Bloke family from my lengthy opinions.)
I will still vote but it’s a bit like on November 11th, when I fall silent for the two minutes silence. I know ultimately it doesn’t change anything, but it is morally the right thing to do and it shows respect for those who came before me.
And if you do live in a marginal seat, then make sure you get up off your sofa and vote on June 8th. Do it for those of us who count for nothing!