“The fact is that the voters do not choose the Prime Minister. Under the crap FPTP(First Past the Post) system used in the UK and three of its ex-colonies, the voter does not directly choose the next Prime Minister, the voter does not directly choose the next Government, the voter only chooses the next MP for that constituency.
First Past the Post means that all votes that are not cast for the winning candidate are wasted. Thrown away. Discounted. Pointless. Unvalued. Futile. Senseless. Ineffectual. Pointless. Fruitless. Cast in vain. Worthless. Hollow. Disapparated. Not even recycled.”
Richard Lawson talks tactical voting and a less than perfect voting system.
Some say our voting system appeals due to it’s easy to understand nature. It’s an entirely black and white outcome scenario and is easy to understand. In Australia, where voting is compulsory (and yes people do trudge to the polling station usually on a Saturday to spoil their ballot paper rather than receive a fine for not voting) there is a system where you get to express second and third preference votes. OK you still end up with a dominant two party system but your vote for a single issue party is not wasted as it can be redeployed via a second and third preference. Many would argue that this is not ideal but hey life is all about compromise sometimes.
We got a register of electors form in the post today which provides various methods of registering to vote: phone via an 0800 number (free), SMS text or online with a large print Option B that states that the form should only be returned by post if we were unable to or unwilling to register via the previous three methods.
The flaw in this wonderfully connected plan is that these options require that you supply two distinct security codes as printed on the form (secure eh) but neither method will accept these as valid numbers.
With the postal system so flaky now I’m beginning to wonder if even putting the form in the post is a good idea especially if some poor sod just enters the details manually into a computer which rejects the super secret secure codes yet again.
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Soon it will be time for the local elections across many of the UK’s towns and cities. I and my partner have just had a letter personally addressed to us by one of the three main parties casually pointing out why it would be advantageous to vote for them come May 3rd. How kind! My tendency to vote has undergone a transformation of late and for the 1st time in my life I’m veering away from exercising my right to vote. Traditionally I’ve always voted with different priorities when it comes to local elections as compared to EU or national elections anyway.
I’ve always exercised my right to vote from the earliest opportunity and to a large extent the 80′s were a politicising period for me and a very alienating one too as I felt the wrong side of the national mood a bit too often. At the end of the 90′s I joined my partner in Australia only to find myself looking down the barrel of what felt like a re-run of the 80′s only 12,000 miles away and with different accents and an even greater sense that I did not belong their either.
I returned to the UK and things went fairly well for a while and I felt that this was home again. I’m now back to an even greater sense of alienation that perhaps I felt 20 years ago. I am certainly disillusioned with the notion of democracy and what government is capable of doing that is very much not in the name of the people (when was it ever so?). Politics and political parties have homogenised in Britain. There are no longer great ideological divides between the three parties and it can be hard to really tell them apart. If it wasn’t for our first past the post voting system I’d say that a period of coalition would be beneficial and would end the desperation the opposition party(ies) now feel in trying to oppose a government who has largely put in place the very policies that they would agree with and indeed may well have proposed in the first place. Many acts of parliament now have only been passed with the specific support from the opposition anyway so what is the point of all the pretense. No matter who you vote for. If they became the government or local council, little will change. Turkeys don’t vote for Xmas etc. Politicians exist primarily to serve themselves. Radical government will never be elected and the status quo governments are now driven by other forces separate from the electorate.
Government and politics is essentially still operating on a 19th to early 20th Century model and is so outdated to our modern day needs and wants that it’s not really funny anymore. And I am not sold on the market forces, economy is preferable to democracy argument as a continuing solution
So I’m stuck. keep voting in the hope that things will change or refuse to vote for a homegenised body of self interested groups that act only in their best interest and against mine and my theoretical freedoms and needs. Do I increase my involvement in political activism in a futile attempt to affect change, lobby my local MP harder to explain their gutless support for another ill conceived bill passed through parliament. Or just give it all up as a bad job and join the growing number of people who feel that the current political system will never serve our real needs.
“No control, I can’t believe I’ve no control.”
I’m getting to the point, certainly at the national level, that if there’s a Monster Raving Loony Party candidate standing at the general election I might as well vote for them as I must be certifiable to keep voting for any of the mainstream parties. If my one vote could help a loony keep his deposit (unlikely I know) then at least I will have felt that my vote made a difference to something.
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Losing my appetite for voting when everything tastes the same « STUFFEM-Up the hill backwards
When I lived in Australia for a short period, one of the things I grew very quickly to dislike was Australian Prime Minister John Howard. I was there in the late 90′s just as Britain had elected Nu Labour (New Tory?) and Australian politics felt a bit like a re-run of the 80′s political scene in the UK. No real effective opposition, an arrogant right wing government taking on the unions and having been in power for a long period. I was also able to witness Australia’s compulsory voting system via a national election at the time. Held on a Saturday the voters I was living with had to trek to the nearest school to vote and would face a fine if they did not. They are free to deface the voting slip when they get there but nobody escapes the political process. Australia has an intricate 2nd preference voting system in that if your desired candidate does not receive enough votes then your vote is transferred to a second preference which can result in the most bizarre consequences.
John Howard is an identikit politician. Background as a lawyer (you’ll know he’ll be good at lying), in awe of big business, contempt for ordinary people, that kind of thing. The similarity with Thatcher’s Britain continued in that most Australians I met seemed to hate Howard and yet at election time he pretty much romps home and back to power as enough people are doing OK thank you very much (it’s a truism that how people say they will vote and how they actually vote are usually quite different).
So I’m not surprised that little Johnny Howard, a man that BBC correspondent Nick Bryant describes as the type of politician who would happily cross a road for a fight, is now telling American voters how to vote. A democratic government in the USA would not be the sort of company that Howard relishes.
He has spoken out against the potential democratic candidate Barack Obama and criticising his proposals for an early withdrawal of US troops from Iraq. You have to remember that Australia supported America in Vietnam and sent troops there too whilst Britain’s then Prime Minister, Harold Wilson tacitly played lip service to “the special relationship” whilst refusing to send British troops (something that most of us in the UK wish that Tony Blair had done over Iraq).Mr Obama has responded to Howard’s attck by saying he is “flattered” that one of George Bush’s allies on the other side of the world has started attacking him the day after he announced his Iraq policy.
Apart from highlighting an aspect of John Howard’s personality, it also shows how international politics has become a bit of an old boys right wing club (is that what they meant by “New world order”?) and that political toadies who are happy to cosy up to a republican government can also have a dummy spit if it looks like their playmates are moving to another classroom.