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Daily Archives: 5 May 2012
In this morning’s post I got some shit off my chest by sarcastically congratulating non-voters. The motivation was inspired by @HollySmither on twitter. She had adopted the irritating strategy of using multiple tweets to make a point. I asked her to blog her thoughts part way through the bombarding she gave me.
Evidentally, she has read my blog post and not liked it one little bit. In fact, she has written her first ever blog post in response to it! She ignored that request on twitter but it does seem that my fingering her in my own blog has galvanised her into action. I’m rather pleased because, although I don’t know her, she seemed like the sort of person who is more than capable of articulating her radical views. Unfortunately, twitter is not a suitable medium for enunciating anything sophisticated, complex or detailed. Blogs are. She’s given an interesting and well argued response.
I don’t propose to develop this debate any further. Why would I bother? There’s little point. We both have settled opinions. I believe that refusing to vote or spoil your ballot is antisocial. Very broadly speaking, she seems to think that voting or spoiling a ballot is antisocial. I will pick up on some points of detail though these are by no means my only thoughts on her blog post.
Firstly, I think there is a contradiction in stating that deliberately spoiling your ballot paper endorses the political system. Surely that’s a bit like vandalising a train to support public transport. Secondly, I think its a bit rich to claim that you would fight for the right to vote if you did not have it whilst at the same time insisting that it brings no benefits. Thirdly, at no time have I ever claimed that voting was an alternative to other forms of political action. We should use all the means at our disposal.
Fourthly, and perhaps most importantly, the Green Party in Brighton & Hove originally proposed a budget which sought to raise council tax in order to protect jobs and services. That budget was amended by the other parties, which hold the majority of the seats. The Greens voted for the amended budget because otherwise none of their other policies would be adopted by the council. This is hardly the place to list all the other policies but the introduction of a living wage might be used as an example. The Green Party manifesto specifically pointed out that it couldn’t “stop the cuts made at source by the Coalition”. Unlike the other local parties, you can still download our manifesto. [correction: the Brighton & Hove Labour Party 2011 manifesto is also still online.]
Finally, I neither agree with capitalism nor with the idea that all parties within shouting distance of power succumb to it. Odd that the thieving Tory bastards routinely describe the Greens as Marxist but HollySmither makes out that we are as bad as the rest. Other parties have been pointedly anti-capitalist, though to be fair the two Communist Party MPs elected in 1945 or the Independent Labour Party never got near real power. I don’t think the Labour Party in 1945 could fairly be described as capitalist. It set about nationalising everything it could and set up our National Health Service.
So, yes, shame on you, HollySmither for refusing to vote or spoil your ballot and thanks for explaining why with a degree of cogency. As arguments go, it could have been better but you fell into the trap of making it a constant argument with me personally. My blog post, on the other hand, was just me getting some shit off my chest; only one-third of it was aimed at you specifically. The difference between us? You represent your trades union members. I represent no-one but myself. I happen to be a member of a political party but I hold no position in that party. I was a hunt saboteur once but I didn’t represent the entire animal rights’ movement. See what I’m saying here?
Overall, I’m pleased you channeled your views into a blog rather than soak up my timeline. I hope you blog some more. I hope your trades union gains in power and I hope all of your members, including you, vote or spoil your ballots. Presently, sadly, the trades union movement is a husk of its former self. Those of us old enough to remember the times before Miners’ Strike, know how wonderful real working class power is but even then, there were some issues which could not be resolved by it. Some issues require governmental control and for those we have elections.
By the way, try not to muddle up an image file name with an actual sentiment! It was just some way for me to remember which image to upload later.
Most people who could vote on Thursday (in the UK) did not. It was an overwhelming majority. The typical reasons for not voting are (i) can’t be bothered; (ii) no candidates or parties worth voting for; (iii) a principled stand against democracy, on the basis that it is flawed; (iv) a principled stand against democracy, on the basis that no democracy would be better; (v) a belief that all politicians are the same and voting makes no difference. Whatever the reason, these people won the day. Their non-participation in the democractic process ensured that those elected cannot claim to represent the considered will of the majority. Shame on them.
People Who Couldn’t Be Bothered To Vote
You deserve everything which is foisted upon you by elected politicians. You have no right to complain about anything. Your contribution to the national debate equals zero. You couldn’t care less, literally. You’re lucky that people care about you. Some people anyway. Personally, I have less respect for you than I do for someone who casts a vote for the thieving Tory bastards.
No Candidates Or Parties Worth Voting For
This is an excuse. You could have turned up at the polling station and registered your disgust by spoiling your ballot paper. Spoilt ballots are counted and declared. I suspect that there are so very many people in your category that you form the bulk of the non-voters. Had you spoilt your ballot paper, your frustration with the politics on offer would have become the main story for years to come. Politicians would have been put into panic mode because they would have seen that you had made the effort to get to the polling station and are therefore capable of being persuaded to vote for someone in future. Democratic politics is a competition. Politicians compete for the voters, not the non-voters. Ballot spoilers are competed for more than people who object silently. You want perfection! You’re only prepared to vote for someone or a party which mirrors your views very closely, even though that is practically impossible. As in the rest of your life, you have to make some compromises. Assuming that you want to have relationships with other people, that is. You have no relationship with democratically elected politicians precisely because you’re not willing to compromise. Fuck you.
People Who Prefer A Different Form Of Democracy
I’d like to see a different system of elections too. The question is, how to obtain it? You’re doomed to forever suffer the system we have if you don’t vote because when the politicians come around to canvass your vote, they’ll realise that you’re not going to vote and simply ignore your opinion. It really is as simple as that. Your opinions are worthless to those standing for office. Whereas, if you expressed that opinion strongly, at least one political party would include it in its manifesto to try to win your vote. I suspect that if a different system of democracy was introduced, you’d find some other excuse not to vote. Do you really think that your personal opinion is so precious that it cannot be tarnished by joining in with the system we’ve got? You’ll never get what you want with this attitude. You’re smug. You’re useless.
People Who Don’t Like Democracy At All
This is probably the only justifiable reason for not voting. This is the reason given by many anarchists for not voting. If you’re an anarchist who doesn’t vote, you’d do well to remember that fascists do vote even though they’d prefer a regime which would round you up and shoot you. It’s only a vote, for Kropotkin’s sake! Voting doesn’t preclude you from taking many other types of political action. It’s just one method of expressing your opinion. Using the others but avoiding the vote is like romance without seduction. Feels nice doesn’t it? What a loverly comfortable world you live in. Next time you get the chance to vote, please consider the rest of us more than yourself!
All Politicians Are Bastards
Why shouldn’t they be? After all, you’re not offering any incentives to be different are you? Many of them are self-serving wankers, I agree. These people populate all political parties, sadly. However, the trick is to realise that you can chop and change your vote, which produces political change. You have a paranoid complex. You probably fear everyone in authority and prefer a life of constant struggle to one where you contribute. Getting involved, even to the extent of ticking a box on a piece of paper or spoiling the ballot, is a pretty easy contribution to make. You can’t even manage that. You’re the bastard here.
All Of The Above
Thanks a bunch. Thanks to you, we’ve got a thieving Tory bastard elected as Mayor of London. I bet most of you would have preferred someone else on the list but you’ve allowed him enormous power for the next four years. I hold you in utter contempt. You can complain all you like about politics. It doesn’t matter. You are irrelevant.
Inspiration For This Post
I’d like to thank @Hollysmither on twitter for inspiring me to get this shit off my chest. She says she’s a “Trade Unionist, a feminist and book gobbler”. Yet she doesn’t vote. I got into a row with her about that and imagined that I had upset her, so I apologised. She refused to accept the apology. I’ve never heard of a trades unionist who doesn’t vote before. She takes a keen interest in local politics but since she doesn’t vote, local politicians don’t care about her. Why would they?
I’ve always been a keen supporter of the trades union movement. I cannot understand why they continue to bankroll the Labour Party after it launched an illegal war but that is their democratic right and I respect that. Here’s someone who considers herself to be politically active, is a member of a trades union which funds a major political party and can’t bring herself even to spoil her ballot paper. She seemed pretty clear about her reasons for not voting. Here they are (please note I haven’t included my part of the conversation because these tweets came in quick succession – usually I block people who bombard me like this).
Of course voting isn’t the only way to effect change but it is one crucial way. This is the politics of self-indulgence, the persona of someone who is ‘always right’ and the preference of the intellectually lazy. Clearly, she recognises that voting can change things – she says “voting is not the only way to effect change” – but refuses to do it. Refusing to vote for a particular party but refusing to engage with the entire process by spoiling her ballot renders her political views about as worthy as pub talk. I know you’re going to read this @HollySmither so let me tell you straight. You get everything you deserve from your local council. Why should anyone even consider your views, if you won’t consider scratching something on a political form once every few years? I looked into your timeline I saw that you tweet with the hashtag #acab.
Some of my more genteel readers might not know that ACAB stands for “All Coppers Are Bastards”. A friend of mine is a copper. I got to know him through some musician friends. He works in the techie end of things, catching predatory paedophiles. @HollySmither thinks he’s a bastard for doing that? Come off it, Holly. You’re the bastard here. You’re the reason we don’t attract good quality people to politics. Even though your views are practically worthless because you’ll never vote ‘on principle’, I’ll give you a right of reply.
Time For A Song
When you’re feeling challenged, music can really lift the spirits. All sorts of wishful thinking can be neatly endorsed by music. It’s a great solace. Here’s a classic track. I love it. Turn it on and listen while you’re doing something else. Its all bollocks though. The hippies made a massive contribution to our world. As did the punks!