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April 07, 2006


The Pedant-General


I have to differ with you on this:

You say:
"If they're going to live in a world of their own, we should too. We should ignore the election, and - as far as possible - ignore all candidates and politicians and retreat entirely from party politics. A boycott is a long-established way of demonstrating contemptuous opposition."

Not in this case. We know that a boycott is read as contentment. This is because it is possible to say that voters are not sufficiently worried to take the time to cast a vote. This argument cannot be applied to spoiled ballots.

"But I suspect politicians will spin spoilt papers as well; they'll dismiss them as inconsequential lunacies."

True, but spoiled ballots currently account for a tiny tiny fraction of the count.
- 1979 saw only 117k spoiled ballots against, say 30m votes cast. (source: via the BBC: http://research.umbc.edu/~nmiller/POLI325/BBC.htm)
- Again, around 100k were spoiled in 2001 (source:
probably nutcases, but the figure doesn't feel way out of whack)

Spoil rates of ~0.3% are always going to be ignored as random lunacy. There is no way that a 10% spoil rate could be dismissed as such.

Spoiled ballots are counted. A dramatic rise in spoil rates would therefore be noticed, particularly if it was - as it would be - a result of wide campaign advocating the practice.


(and you desperately need html comments..._)


It's a very attractive argument, Chris but not proactive enough for me. It's a bit Waiting for Godot, isn't it? You might never see a tipping point.

Still there's no reason why both points of view couldn't work independently and yet in concert - they're both after the same goal after all.

As for MacIntyre's local communities - all very utopian and appealing but how does they in practice? Can I go and live in one now (please) or is it a state of mind? Are we sustaining such a community via blogs, comments and trackbacks?

Neil Harding

Ok, I would say this wouldn't I, but there is a massive difference between the parties. NHS waits of 9 weeks now compared to 18 MONTHS in 1997. A third of children taken out of poverty. Massive improvements in rights (better race relations, gay rights, animal rights), Human rights Act, freedom of information, transparency of party donations (the loophole of secret loans soon to be closed). Things were getting worse in 1997, now they are getting better. Too slow progress admittedly, but as long as the alternative is the Tories, it is a progress worth voting for.

If you lot are really fed up with the main three parties and you think you can unite the 39% of the registered electorate that doesn't vote then you could win the election with this 39% and form the next government. Better still join the Labour Party (or any party). Me and a few mates joined and now our constituency (Brighton Pavilion) is lobbying for PR. This is something that wouldn't have happened otherwise. I am going to be a delegate in Manchester, and will try and get this on the agenda. The fact there is so few people in political parties means they can be influenced if enough people could be motivated.

The problem is a few people control the media (and largely support the Tories) and the majority of voters are stubborn in their choices, making a decision on media misinformation or accumulated prejudice rather than indepth knowledge. We also of course have an unresponsive electoral system that severely devalues the votes of 85% of the electorate.

If I had fifty million quid I could probably buy a referendum on proportional representation from a Labour govt.

Policy is being bought in this way (it always has been) by rich individuals and organisations. This is how our democracy is undermined.

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