July 4, 2005 at 08:35 #3994stevedvgMember
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Who needs coffee in the morning when the arrogance of politicians gets the blood going just nicely.
In today’s guardian there’s a story that Geoff Hoon is suggesting that voting should be made compulsory.
He argues that "international experience points to compulsory voting being the most effective way to increase turnout".
, Geoff. I would never have guessed.
Personally I was one of those "serial non-voters" for about a decade until this year’s General Election.
My view was "they’re all a bunch of liars and I refuse to give them a mandate to represent me".
The only thing that changed it was that the government took lying to new depths and, as the labour party was unwilling to hold their leaders accountable for this, I felt compelled to vote tactically against them.
If Geoff wants more people voting, here’s an idea: proportional representation.
Everyone knows that that would get more people voting.
So why isn’t Hoon recommending that?
Some cynics (I know who you are) might suggest that it’s because his party would lose power.
However, I refuse to believe that his his views on raising voter turnout could be shaped by his party’s self-interest.
After all, he’s paid by us, not the Labour Party so he’s going to put our interests first.
SteveJuly 4, 2005 at 09:25 #92315Andrew HughesMember
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There are few stranger phenomena than the continuing presence of Geoff Hoon in the cabinet.
The main reasons put forward for not voting usually fall into three categories
1. Dislike of politicians and their motives<br>2. Lack of realistic choice at the ballot box<br>3. Belief that an individual vote won’t change anything
I don’t think we can do much about 1. As long as there are ministerial positions up for grabs, some ambitious MPs will do whatever they have to to fill those positions. And as long as there are parties, there will be a party line to tow, which makes liars of even the most principled MPs.
But I do think PR would address points 2 & 3.
At the moment, there are only two parties who are likely to have a say in the composition of the next government and both of those parties are squabbling over the centre-right, competing with one another to see who can be the nastiest.
These parties target the marginal seats, of which there are perhaps 100, out of 600 or so in the parliament. If, like me, my family and pretty much everyone I know, you live in a constituency which isn’t marginal, you know that there is very little chance of a change. My constituency has been Tory since the days of William Pitt and will always be. So what most people are faced with is a choice between virtually identical centre-right parties and a local result which is a foregone conclusion.
With PR, the broad principle is that every vote cast for a party directly increases that party’s total and their representation in the parliament. What you end up with is a parliament that is truly representative of the range of opinions of the people.
I think the rise in tactical voting indicates that people are frustrated with the constraints of the current system (which forces people to vote cynically to try to engineer the result they want) and that the electorate is sophisticated enough to handle PR.
It will lead to some coalition governments and make it harder for Prime Ministers to get all of their legislation through. This, I would suggest, after 8 years of Blair, is a good thing. And it would still be possible for one party to gain an overall majority – it would just be a lot harder.July 5, 2005 at 10:57 #92318astonMember
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The right to vote has only as much weight as the right not to vote.July 5, 2005 at 12:46 #92320robnorthParticipant
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It struck me that one thing that might shake up the political situation is if there was a concerted campaign of spoiled ballot papers. These are counted and if the authorities suddenly found they had a million of them Ãƒâ€šÃ‚Â then it might make a few sit up and take notice.<br>I’ve said to one of my workmates that I disagree with his decision not to vote, but would support him if he went to the polling station to write out "Politicians are a bunch of w*****s"! If you don’t think anyone standing is worth voting for then say so.
(Edited by robnorth at 1:50 pm on July 5, 2005)July 5, 2005 at 13:03 #92322stevedvgMember
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I think this is an interesting idea.
If there were more spoiled votes in most constituencies than there were votes for the winner, and these spolied papers expressed negative opinions of the state of politics, then that would be a strong message.
Personally, I strongly considered it last May.
"Tony Blair sucks cocks in hell" would have been my message.
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