Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Apathy And The Right To Vote

Our politicians have become so bland, uninspiring, sometimes corrupt, often disingenuous that they are driving people away from involvement in politics. In millions of cases they are driving people to abstain from voting.

We didn't have local elections last week, but all the friends and family I've spoken to who did have elections live in Manchester, and they didn't vote because they didn't have a candidate or a party standing for election that they trusted. In Manchester city centre ward turnout was just 13 per cent. Manchester as a whole had a turnout of 26 per cent, Salford 27 per cent.

In 35 of the 215 wards across the Greater Manchester councils fewer than one in four people bothered to vote and in 134 wards the turnout was under 33 per cent. Only three wards registered a turnout of over 50 per cent, and they were all neighbouring wards in Oldham. The highest average turnout was in Trafford with 37 per cent.

Yesterday I heard somebody attacking those people who didn't vote, using the hackneyed old argument that people died in wars for our right to vote. No they didn't. I doubt many soldiers have marched into war thinking they were doing it so that those who survive them can vote. Many may have gone into battle to defend democracy, our way of life, our territory or simply because their government told them to, but not so that I could vote for Fred Smith in my local council elections.

The right to abstain is as much a part of democracy as the right to vote. I have no wish to vote Conservative, Tory or Lib Dem. Is it really democratic to force me to hold my nose in an election and vote for a party I don't believe in when there are no credible candidates?

Unless I have a candidate or party I can trust I will also be abstaining in future. It seems to me that one of the greatest contradictions in a so-called democracy is compulsory voting. Compulsory voting is the only way rotten politicians can give themselves a veneer of democracy.

Watch out, they're looking at tax-payer funding of political parties because we don't want to financially support them on a voluntary basis. Compulsory voting will be next.


Guthrum said...

Labour were crowing that the country was 'gaining the trust of the people', they got 38% of the 32% that voted- that equates to 12% of the available vote. Hardly a ringing endorsement to tax and burn the economy.

The Conservative Party did even worse.

Lazarus said...

I ended up spoiling my ballot paper last week, reasoning at least that might suggest to the parties there was a vote to be won if they were willing. Deluding myself I expect...

Daz Pearce said...

In four words - None of the Above!! Get it on the ballot paper and let's see how much of this 'apathy' is really contempt...

People have this annoying tendency to conflate the concepts of democracy and liberty into one. They are of course entirely separate.