Today's little ramble was brought about by a little off-hand remark about the last election. Aparently the Tories got 10 million votes whereas the apathetic (those who didn't vote) numbered 16 million!. So why do all those people fail to vote?
On first appearances there is not a great deal that can be done about those who are too apathetic to vote. By their nature the apathetic are very difficult to persuade into action.
But we can make voting easier.
Postal voting already exists, but still takes a bit of effort to arrange and get sorted. It is rather too late to arrange it for the election this time around, but it is time we had some form of secure online voting. Previous attempts at electronic voting have not been entirely successful, so any online voting mechanism should be slowly are carefully worked out. It is not the sort of thing you hive off to the lowest bidder and let them solve all of the problems.
But probably the one thing I'm keenest on is to review the archaic and ridiculous habit of insisting on voting taking place on a Thursday. There is no reason for it other than convenience for the politicians (it gives them a long weekend to sort out the new government). It is nothing more than a historical custom. Setting the election for a day at the weekend would allow those who are only partialy apathetic more of a chance to get their vote in.
Many of us work, and voting on a Thursday involves disruption to a routine which may not have much available flexibility. In the morning, you're too busy getting the kids to school and yourself to work to take time out to vote (I vote in the mornings and it's amazing how quiet the polling booths are), and after a bad day at work it is all too easy to slump down on the sofa and "forget" about voting.
With our current electoral system, the result of an election is determined by the result in a handful of marginal seats; in the majority of seats the result is almost a foregone conclusion (with the occasional surprise often assisted by the presence of a particularly odious politician).
If you happen to live within a safe seat, there is relatively little pressure to vote – your individual vote is unlikely to make a difference one way or another.
Given the result of the referendum for the last attempt at electoral reform, it is unlikely that any serious attempt at change will be made in the forseeable future. But our current electoral system definitely discourages voter turnout.
It would be nice if we could change the system in some way to make a direct connection between our vote and the person who was elected – so most of us could say that we were one of the 100,000 that voted for Fred and that's why she's an MP.
The Repugnant Political Establishment
There is an old joke about just how repugnance lawyers are :-
And this goes doubly so for politicians (many of whom are or were either solicitors or barristers). Let's be honest: The best of them slither around the place, and you need to keep a tight grip on your wallet whenever a politician is around. How many stories about corrupt politicians have we had in the last 10 years?
It seems to many of us that although the political establishment gives lip service to the will, wishes and needs of the people, it in fact serves only it's own interests and those of it's specially favoured friends (who always seem to be rich and get richer). Whether or not you believe this, there is a significant proportion of the population who do believe it.
Amongst those who do believe, there are also plenty of those who believe that it is best to ignore the political establishment and try and achieve something outside it. Working outside the political establishment is a laudible aim, and something to be encouraged.
But it is not an exclusive choice – you can still work outside the political establishment, and still vote.
Cannot decide which of the rancid reptiles you like best? Just vote for the one you dislike the least; any vote cast for any candidate that opposes UKIP is worthwhile.
My Vote Won't Make A Difference
Statistically that is entirely correct as a single vote does not make a difference.
But collectively we do make a difference; a small difference as the political establishment has stacked the deck, but a difference none the less.