People tend to be shocked when I say this (especially if I am sat in Portcullis House when I say it) they huff and look at me disdainfully, like I’m mad. Then in response they usually trot out the same well-worn arguments.
‘This is no time for voting apathy!’
Apathy? Nothing could be further from the truth. I am obsessed with politics and I read about it all the time. The first thing I do every morning is read the papers and various political journals. I am currently reading the diaries of Tony Benn, I have just finished a book on Marx (the socialist not the funny man), Blair’s biography (the funny man), ‘Living in the end times’ by Slavoj Žižek, ‘Chavs’ by Owen Jones, ‘The secret war with Iran’ and ‘A radical history of Britain’ to name but a few.
The reason I don’t vote isn’t because I couldn’t be bothered, I don’t vote because I don’t agree with any party enough to give them my name. I don’t believe in our political system. I don’t believe that voting leads to any kind of real democracy.
For example, over 90% of the population believes it is wrong for us to be invading countries in the Middle East and yet we are still there. For years now the government ignores our opinion and instead uses our hard earned taxes to invade, bomb and kill hundreds of thousands of innocent people. As the role of government is supposed to represent the majority of people, there is clearly something wrong here.
Of course our uber aggressive Middle Eastern policy is just an example, I can think of another thirty issues off the top of my head where the government disregards the opinions of the masses and does what the hell it wants.
What recourse do you have if you’re unhappy with this? Well you can wait until the next election and vote for some other party. They will make lots of promises about the changes they will make when they get elected. You vote for them, they get elected and they then renegade on all the election promises they made; they ignore the will of the voting populous and do pretty much what they want. So, you wait until the next election and vote for another part and the whole sickening charade continues ad infinitum. Pretty much, that’s the history of politics right there.
The fact that we all choose to play this ridiculous game by voting contributes to the political system we now have, society may deserve the government it gets. Politics is now run by and large by career politicians bred to ‘rule’, very wealthy elitists who only know other very wealthy elitists. Is it possible that Cameron can know what it’s like to be poor? Has he ever stepped foot on a council estate outside of a brief photo opportunity? Does he even have an inkling of what it’s like to not be able to pay your bills? Clearly the answer is no!
He is however very qualified to govern the super rich, they are his friends, he went to school with them, he is himself super rich after all. This being so you would imagine that many of his policies may favour the wealthy? (like cutting the high tax rate from 50% to 45% in the middle of the worlds biggest recession?) But how is he qualified to govern those who are not well off? What does he know about our ordinary lives? How will he be able to tackle the real issues facing the poor?
The second response I tend to get when I announce that I have never voted is:
‘If you don’t vote you have no right to an opinion on how the country is run!’
Really? The fact that once ever four years I don’t shuffle down to the primary school at the end of my road and scrawl an ‘X’ on a bit of paper excludes me from having an opinion on how the country is run? I am a 40% tax payer, doesn’t the fact that I pay thousands of pounds in tax every year, which is spent by this government, give me the right to an opinion?
It’s the smugness of those that do vote that worries me the most. Voting is seen to be you doing your bit for our country, the way it is run and who runs it. It allows you to go back to your armchair for the next four years while you wait for a man in a suit, who you voted in, to make our country great and sort out all our social issues. You don’t need to get involved or indeed put in any effort in your local area to make things better; you’ve done your bit after all.
The act of voting and the subsequent feeling of contentedness that’s come from that one act makes the majority of people passive in their own lives and in society. We are members of society but were not really ‘present’.
If you think back to a time in your life when you were most happy (go on picture it, it will make you all glowy : ) it will generally be a time when you had a lot of control in your life and the revers of this is true too, when you were most unhappy will coincide with a time when you had the least control of the various factors in your life. So to be such passive members of society, our only point of control being every four years when we vote can only mean a very unhappy collective psyche across the nation.
I haven’t finished yet, in part 2 I will talk about the other criticisms I get but more importantly what I think we should be doing to really change our country for the better.