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05 May 2010 @ 11:00 pm
Make A Choice  
Tomorrow we elect a new government and I have the frightening thought that we may not get the government that we choose.

Traditionally British elections are a two party race, so voting tactically means if you don't want one party to gain power then you vote for the other, even if you don't agree with either party's politics. You vote for the lesser of the two evils, giving rise to the saying that British governments aren't voted in it's just that the old ones are voted out. This year though opinion polls seem to show a close race between the three largest political parties: Labour, Conservative, and Liberal. Confusion has ensued. We don't know how to cope with tactics when three parties are involved.

There's the possibility of a hung, or balanced, parliament which has people worried that we'll end up with a indecisive government in which no main political party has power. If we get a hung parliament, then fair enough. If it doesn't work then they'll be a re-election. However, if we get one because of tactical voting then the result won't be representative of what people actually want, which is really just as bad as getting one party voted in because we didn't want the other one. It's not a choice we've made.

Then there's the fact that an awful lot of people are disillusioned when it comes to British politics and politicians. Thanks to the war in Iraq and the expenses scandal, to name but a few reasons why, or because they feel the system doesn't provide a choice. There are non-voters who hope that large numbers of people refusing to vote will show dissatisfaction with the political system and parties. The problem is that, unlike in some countries, our voting cards don't come with a tick box for registering a non-vote, or a vote for no political party, so how can we tell what's apathy, where people just can't be bothered, and what's a non-vote?

If you don't show up, if you don't put a cross in a box, if you don't vote, then you have no voice. How can it be a protest if no one knows about it?

For the first time ever we've had live, televised debates between the three main political party leaders. Speculation on the election has been all over the news. It's easy to find out what the main parties plan to do if they are elected, and if you don't like it there are other parties. They might be small, they may have no chance of getting into power, but they are there. Disillusionment with the main political parties can be expressed by voting for another party and if they don't get in, well, if you don’t vote at all then you're not voting anyone in either, are you?

So here's an idea: I'm going to vote for the party whose policies I'd most like to see put into action. I'd happily tell you what party that is, but for what I'm trying to say here it doesn't matter. Maybe they won't get into power, but I'll have registered my choice.

Please don't throw away the opportunity, a right that's been fought for throughout history, to have a say in how your country is run. America had an inspiring turn out for their last election. It scares me that we could do the opposite, that so many people are casually saying they're not going to vote.

Make a choice. If we get a hung parliament, so be it. If we get a majority and it's a party you or I personally don't want in power, so be it. If people complain that votes have been wasted on minor parties, so be it. Just vote.

It's our choice. It's our opportunity to choose. Please don't waste it.
 
 
 
thesteppyonethesteppyone on May 5th, 2010 10:14 pm (UTC)
It's a toughie, that's for sure! I'm still not sure who I'm voting for but I'm definitely voting because women died so I could. I think our voting system needs reforming but if no one votes then the chances of that happening are reduced. We need change, that's for sure, but I don't know who's best to give it. We shall see! It'll be interesting if nothing else! Happy voting day, hon :D
inkvoices: hp:hermione black and whiteinkvoices on May 5th, 2010 10:32 pm (UTC)
I'm so very, very glad that you're voting, even if you haven't decided yet!

I know, it's a complicated election. I think a reformation of the system is something that should be pushed through before next time, but I'm not sure what system would be completely fair. There will probably be a reforendum on it at least. Tomorrow everything's going to change. It's like people are holding their breath to see which way the wind is going to turn. Definitely interesting! *grins*

ineptshieldmaidineptshieldmaid on May 6th, 2010 12:20 am (UTC)
As an Australian, and therefore cynic, I am happy to inform you that tactical voting works quite well in multiple-party situations. You start with the "hell no way, not under any circumstances, not even if all the others were found sacrificing puppies" candidate, giving him or her your last preference, and then work your way slowly up until you have the person who, by a process of elimination, you dislike the least.

Most of the time this produces exactly the same person as a process of optimistic "now who would I like most" type thoughts, but it's so much FUN ranking them all viciously from the bottom up.

Of course, this leads to you standing there in the voting booth with the two-hundred person ballot paper for the Senate candidates and carefully numbering them from two-hundred to one.
inkvoices: N:susan smileinkvoices on May 6th, 2010 09:30 pm (UTC)
I am greatly amused by the mental image of someone working their way through two hundred candidates...and the queue that would form outside the ballot box!

That kind of voting I don't see as tactical as such. You're still voting for the person you most want, or dislike the least. What I meant was, in Britain because it's been essentially a two-party system, even if you really wanted to vote for one of the minor parties people wouldn't because they'd never get it and it can be judged as 'wasting a vote', so you'd vote for one of the two main parties, even if neither of them came at the top of your numbered list. I know voting systems are never 100% fair *shrugs* but there's been talk more than usual about ours needing some change.

Alas, only four parties ran for power in my district, so it wouldn't have taken me long to number them.... ;o)
ineptshieldmaidineptshieldmaid on May 6th, 2010 11:03 pm (UTC)
The happy thing about the ridiculously long senate ballot box is that since you're electing three representatives for your whole *state*, rather than one rep for your electorate, it's actually feasible for small parties to get in. The Greens are quite a force in federal politics here without holding a single seat in the lower house (where they can't get in in the lower house they can often do preference deals, as in some electorates they get enough votes than greens preferences could decide the issue). On the other hand, this explain the existence of the Family First Party. Sigh...

I personally am hoping that the Sex Party do something spectacular and humourous this coming election. They've been running a candidate for the senate, which is reasonable and what you do if you're a small party. But now they have TWO candidates, and I seriously hope they throw the second one into the ring against someone ridiculously conservative. The other week a moderately well-known gay activist announced he's running against the former leader of the Liberal Party (who are not particularly liberal), that should be fun!
leven_kemalleven_kemal on May 6th, 2010 07:42 am (UTC)
Great message about using your voice as a voter. The Parliament system is not intuitive for me as I've dealt with the more up/down, in/out two-party American system all my life. Not saying one or the other is more effective. Both seem to allow our nations' more eccentric elements to let their freak flags fly. :) I've been following the UK election cycle through one of my favorite bloggers, Andrew Sullivan at the Atlantic. He's a conservative, gay, Catholic, Thatcherite English ex-pat, and an brilliant writer, which is why I started following him in the first place. He makes a great, conservative case for equal marriage rights for same-sex couples. And then there's some issues he's an absolute loon on. Ah, political activists...
inkvoices: F:wash flyboyinkvoices on May 6th, 2010 09:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you. People not voting, especially after so much that's happened in history for us to secure that as a right, is one of those things for me that I have to comment on.

I'm not sure any system is particular effective, but there's been talk of changing ours perhaps, mostly referring to the possibility of proportional representation. Basically, at the moment, there can be as many parties as people who want to register/form one. The country is divided up in constituencies, and in each constituency a candidate will run for a party. Some parties don't have candidates in each constituency, especially the small, minor parties. This time our area had a choice of four. It's a first past the post system, so there's a seat in parliament to be won by one party in each area, and then the party with the most seats has the majority and runs the show. Essentially though you can end up with lots of parties in parliament, so the idea goes. That's the elected half of parliament though. We also have an un-elected, appointed House of Lords, made up of peers of the realm and such like, which arguably should go - un-elected means undemocratic to my mind.

Sorry, crash course in UK politcs there *sheepish grin*. Ha, I'll have to check out that blog. Political activists are fun :o) Hmm, elections do seem to bring out the fringe folk, don't they?
sarahetc on May 6th, 2010 11:45 am (UTC)
Abstention is, in fact, a choice.
inkvoices: true to yourselfinkvoices on May 6th, 2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
It is. But there's no box for it on UK ballot sheets, so there's no record of abstention or a non-vote as a choice as such to distinguish it from voting apathy. I have no problem with people wanting to abstain from a vote, but then when (if) our voting system gets overhauled there should be a way of stating that, as registering abstention as a choice in and of itself, not just a non-choice of not chosing anything.

Until then, unfortunately, with the system in the UK the way it is, if you don't vote then you're thrown in with the people who just couldn't be bothered voting. No one knows if you chose to abstain, just that you didn't show up on the day.