It’s election time. All over the EU people are voting for MEP’s and here in the UK some councils have elections for local councillors. As per usual the issue of voting (and not voting) dominates the commentsphere.
It’s an issue that has got a bit of momentum in the UK thanks to some celebrity interventions into the debate around the whole idea of voting, particularly the vexed issue of getting young people to vote.
So, its seems like a good time to make a confession – I’m a ‘don’t voter’. There I have said it. It’s not that I haven’t voted. Or that I will never vote. When I have nothing to vote for I don’t vote. From what I can make out, according to much of the commentary I’ve read this morning, this:
- means I’m apathetic.
- makes me an idiot
- makes me selfish – apparently I’m stopping your party getting in
- makes me selfish – apparently I’m allowing the party you don’t like to get in.
- means I have never heard of the suffragettes or a number of wars – I’m an ignorant idiot.
- no better than Russell Brand – and by extension, an idiot
- makes me responsible for homophobia and wars in far off places, far-right parties in Europe etc.
- means I have no right to comment on voting politics or anything else until I vote – at least I can be an idiot that gets irony
- disrespectful of your grandmother, grandfather or whichever relative you found an ‘inspiration’ in your youth
But the truth is that this more than just the process of voting. It’s not just that I can walk up to the booth unmolested – great and powerful as that is. It’s the responsibility to then exercise a choice. Exercising your right to vote is not enough and whilst it might be respectful of all those who came before, I’d have thought it was important that we are using and allowed to use that choice ‘responsibly’.
Lets imagine for a minute that inspirational grandma saved up all her life and through her hard won efforts gave me 50 quid to spend (ardent capitalist as she clearly is). Lets imagine I go to the market with my 50 quid. I get a number of stalls. Look there’s the regulars selling a pile of shit. Then there are newcomers – smaller and less tricksy, and they have new shit. But, once you get it home and get past the wrapping, oh, it’s the same old shit.
So whichever way I spend my 50 quid I’m still going to have to go home and tell my Gran that I spent that hard earned 50 quid on shit. Or I could just say. ‘you’re all selling shit I’m going to hang on to my 50 quid and spend it when theres something other than shit to buy.
So I voted today – apparently I’m allowed to say all of this because I did vote. None of the people on the ballot where people I wanted to vote for and there is no way I can express that and get that counted in the same way a vote would be counted – no ‘none of the above’ or minimum vote to validate the abuse of the term ‘mandate’.
So I spoiled my vote. I scribbled on my ballot paper like 5 year old! You have no idea how angry and depressed that made me feel.
But at least I voted. That’s the important thing right?