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May 11, 2005



Someone ought to tell Norm that if the non-voters non-voted just because they couldn't be arsed, then they are obviously natural trade unionists and therefore should be assigned 100% to the Labour camp.

(For the avoidance of doubt, the expression "Labour camp" should not be interpreted as an allusion to Mr Toni Blair.)


I voted Conservative. But a Lib Dem who tends to vote and have the opposite opinions to me on most major decisions gets to reprsent me.

Therefore I think I have very good cause to complain. I think people who didnt go to ballot do foreit some rights :P We all have the option to at least collect our ballot slip and wipe our arse with it.


All you are really asking for is a "none of the above", only then can we separate the lazy from the pedantic.

Paddy Carter

I think if I had to choose between Nick Griffin & George Galloway I'd better work out which one is the least bad and vote accordingly.

Notions like "protesting" might mean something in your mind, but that's as far as it goes. Abstention will do nothing to improve the choices on offer next time around. Fine, if you don't care who gets in, don't vote, but don't pretend there is anything meaningful in abstaining. You're abstention is absolutely equivalent to that of somebody who just couldn't be arsed to get off the sofa.

If you want to protest against managerialist ideologies, you better go out and do that. Not voting ain't it. It's an empty gesture I would not have expected you to have any time for.

Surely the only ways you can do anything politically meaningful are either to become politically active in someway yourself or find some way of signalling to politicians what they could do to win or lose your next vote - abstention sends no such signal.


"You're abstention is absolutely equivalent to that of somebody who just couldn't be arsed to get off the sofa."

Not at all. If the abstentians votes win a majority then the the constituency has no representative, and the seat in parliament stays empty. If politicians were required to have a majority of all the seats in the house to have their laws enacted.

This way, both Nick Griffin and George Galloway could be excluded, if that were the will of the people.

Question to our host Chris. If the purpose of voting is to calculate the will of the people, why bother with democracy and not just have opinion polls of small samples?

Paddy Carter

Kit, I didn't know that. So if the turnout falls below 50% - meaning abstentions are in the majority - is there no MP? Weren't some constituencies close to that? I wonder why I've never heard of that possibility - I'd have thought it would have been taken up by protesters campaigning for 'stay at home'.


"So if the turnout falls below 50% - meaning abstentions are in the majority - is there no MP?"

No, the system doesn't work like that. (Several constituencies did have a below-50% turnout.)

On abstaining I'm with Justin McKeating:

"Whatever your views, I urge you to vote even if it’s to spoil your ballot. Spoiled papers get counted, abstentions do not and low turnouts are spun by the victors to suit their own ends - witness witless John Prescott’s facile attributing of the abysmal turnout in 2001 to a 'culture of contentment'."
- http://chickyog.blogspot.com/2005/05/last-word-until-next-one.html

Norm is in good company, apparently.

Paddy Carter

so how does the system work? when are abstentions judged to be in a majority?


Possibly the problem of unenthusiastic support could be addressed by giving everybody 10 votes to allocate or not at their discretion.

Thus is a straight fight between the Flat Earth Party and the Hollow Earth Party, a voter who generally supported Flat Earth, but thought Hollow Earth had better policy on, say, education could vote FE: 7; HE: 3.

A paid up Flat Earth militant could vote FE: 10, whereas a lifelong Flat Earther who was a bit disenchanted by their record over the last eight years could vote FE: 4, and not cast the remainder.


I've an idea, why don't we just abolish political parties altogether and people can concentrate votes on issues, for which candidates can claim an opinion on.

Nah, that'll never work, would it ?

Once people realise that party politics should pander to democracy and not the other way round, will we then get an appreciable degree of voting. PR systems just legitimize the existance of party politics, but we need electorial systems that do the exact opposite of that.

Franchising candidates, restricting party membership, and banning multiple candidates in a single constituency, are all anti-democratic measures employed by all the major and minor parties, its about time it got outlawed.

I'd love to create an anti-party party, but that's a bit like organising anarchists.


Ian, I had a similar thought on the toilet the other day. Just get rid of parties. The probelm is if you vote for a Labour candidate does it mean:
- you fully support the Labour manifesto
- you fully support your candidates views
But your candidate may be against half the manifesto but still seemingly represent Labour.


Monjo, that's exactly it.

I currently live in Brian Sedgemore's old constituency, I was not at the last election but I'd be pretty p*ssed off if I'd voted for him now knowing that he had the gall to stand as a Labour candidate when all along he was a Liberal Democrat (okay, I am actually not that nieve but its all been confirmed now).

His replacement is no better, Meg Hillier is in fact a Co-op Party member, only affiliated with Labour, a fact neatly tucked away on her webpage FAQ, the one containing the "Forward Not Back" Labour slogan. I'm sure many Co-op policies differ from Labour ones, but nowhere did it state on my ballot paper which party she really represented. Even if I wanted to vote Labour I couldn't, its as close to a sham as you can get.

Party politics abuses republican democracy, I just wish people would stop ranting on about PR, which in fact galvanises party politics, and see what the real problem is. PR just turns voters into football fans, your side just has to win at all costs, stuff the issues.

Blaenau Gwent is a classic example of how people vote for issues rather than parties.


"Blaenau Gwent is a classic example of how people vote for issues rather than parties". Years ago I went along to a public meeting because I was considering voting for an Independent Labour candidate. A question from the floor: you'll be from a working class family? Candidate: Yes! From the floor: That'll be a large family? I'm baffled; my wife leans over "He's asking whether he's a Catholic." Extraordinary creature, the Labour Movement.


A lot of the problems could surely be addressed if constituency MPs were allowed to be a little less tribal and support the Government when their policies were sensible and vote against when they did not support the Government. Currently, there seems to be a terrible media induced stigma attached to being a 'rebel' by voting against the Government if you sit on the Government benches.

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