Archive for the ‘voting’ Tag

Democracy, Control & Project Fantasy

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Yesterday’s Any Questions on BBC Radio 4 was a special edition in the wake of the murder of Jo Cox. There was no studio audience and the panel was made up of commentators rather than politicians. What cheered my heart to some degree, in the midst of a moronic and deceitful referendum and a tragic assassination, was that two disparate journalists, Polly Toynbee of The Guardian and Peter Oborne of the Daily Mail, emphasised the desperate need for voting reform and some meaningful form of proportional representation.

I have voted in every election in my adult life – for 34 years – until the recent London mayoral election which I did not turn out for because I didn’t care for either of the main candidates. In those 42 years I have never elected a single person. Because I’m a liberal by nature, though even when I’ve voted otherwise/tactically, as in May 2015, I’ve still made no difference.

In Anita Anand’s Any Answers phone-in after the programme an MP’s chief of staff rang in and threw away that great cliche that in our democracy we “can always vote them out”. But we can’t. I haven’t been able to.

We have a highly overrated ‘democracy’ in which elections have boiled down to become focused on a tiny minority of swing voters in marginal seats.

We have an increasingly disempowering ‘democracy’ in which a party like UKIP gets millions of votes but one seat only, gets three times as many votes as the SNP but 1/56th of the representation in Parliament. How should those millions of UKIP voters feel in the wake of that most depressing election? I’ve no particular sympathy for the UKIP perspective but I don’t believe their supporters’ votes should be without value or real meaning.

As I was walking along the river in Winchester yesterday evening I spotted a Leave campaign poster at the back of an affluent house, with a URL  including the words “take control”. I would contend that even if we took back sovereignty from the EU we would continue to have no real control. At least ‘we the people’ would not. We the politicians, many of whom are elected on well under 50% of the vote, indeed many on under 30%, may gain even more unearned control and fundamentally undemocratic power.

UK democracy has been severely wounded and bleeding out long before the horrendous murder of Jo Cox, by all accounts a representative of great integrity, selfless conviction and beautiful character. Her death is tragic. Her killer’s state of mind is sadly poisonous. The referendum debate is toxic with hate and mendacity. I’ll go vote on Thursday – but with a deep sense of disempowerment and little feeling of hope…

UK Democracy: a travesty of a mockery of a sham of two mockeries

I’ve just been re-watching this TED talk by TV presenter Rick Edwards, stalwart of E4 and Channel 4, about young people and voting.

It’s an interesting enough watch, clear, addressing a critical topic, not least just a few weeks out from a hard-to-call general election. But I’m having my own mid-life election crisis. I’ve managed to get to my silver fox period without missing an election but without ever having a vote that truly counts. I’ve lived in constituencies that are not marginal and I’ve voted for neither of the two big parties because neither represents my views. I’m having a crisis this time out and for the first time ever I’m going to vote tactically because I can’t take 5 more years of Toryism. Our MP seems to be hard working but that just makes him a hard-working cunt. He still comes from a mind-set that would sell its own grandmother. Does sell its own grandmother. Does sell the city I love. Does want to sell the library I love. Does sell the electoral roll data. Does sell the ground underneath my house and your house. Does sell our national health service.

…Ok, I just took a little rest after that rantette and watched this – it was made in 1976, just watch the first 30 seconds – nothing’s really changed in 40 fucking years…

I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!

Actually I probably will, like the rest of you schmucks. We’ll all get loaded up with debt from the minute we’re old enough to open our own bank account and be turned into wage slaves.

So here’s what I want help with – How is this Democracy…

  • I get to vote once every 5 years (in a general election)
  • I’m voting in a constituency and borough which is not marginal – so one party I loathe impacts on my life both locally and nationally
  • When, in the past, the constituency was under other control, it was the other main party that doesn’t represent my views or philosophy either
  • The two parties I’ve voted for have Big Fat Zero chance of being elected nationally, a bit more locally though it’s never happened so far
  • I didn’t want to vote tactically on principle – I wanted to express what I actually think by voting for the representative closest to my views
  • So my vote has made no direct impact on anything in over 30 years, both in the general and local elections
  • Now I’ve cracked – I’ll be voting for the Lesser Evil – how rubbish is that as an option?
  • So how is that Democracy? How can a first-past-the-post system be fair or genuinely democratic?

I genuinely would value your thoughts on this…

Rick Edwards’ and others’ ambitions to get young people to vote are laudable but while the UK system is like this for the many citizens in situations like mine (i.e. all non-marginal seats) it really does beg the question what’s the point?

Polling Day (Stand up and be counted)

Tank Man

China evidently blocked access to Twitter two days ago, two days before the sensitive 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Other Internet services that seem to have become inaccessible include Hotmail, Flickr and search engine Bing.

In recent years, access to YouTube, Western media outlets and many other websites has also been blocked, often before or after ‘sensitive’ events. And now’s a good moment to remember those who blocked themselves.

A few days after the blog of artist and government critic Ai Weiwei was shut down, he simply opened a new one (which you can see here, in Chinese). Ai also uses Twitter.

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Only 22% of eligible British voters have declared their intention to vote in the European and county council elections today. In 2004 the turnout in Britain for the European parliamentary elections was 38.9%.

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Be irrepressible

Chat rooms monitored. Blogs deleted. Websites blocked. Search engines restricted. People imprisoned for simply posting and sharing information.

The Internet is a new frontier in the struggle for human rights. Governments – with the help of some of the biggest IT companies in the world – are cracking down on freedom of expression … learn more

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