I’m slightly confused. In the papers and on TV and radio there’s talk of an election in the offing. Well, if there is, they’re doing a bloody good job of hiding it in the constituency in which I live.
A fortnight to go until the big day (Oh, Jesus, is it really a fortnight? It’s been going on for 4 years) and there’s precious little to indicate there’s anything going on down here.
I appear to be drowning in a sea of paper candidates, and even then the paper is in short supply. We have the usual suspects standing here, Con, Lib, Lab, UKIP, Green and then the very earnest Monetary Reform Party.
Visits received? Nil.
Literature received? Three. One from the Tories showing the sitting MP in a very unusual and contrived pose, comb-over plastered down on to his pate and a pair of very fetching cords. I live in Canterbury, quite a rural constituency, so the Tory seems to have gone for country gent gone to town for the day. Which as far as I can make out is a fairly accurate representation.
One from UKIP trotting out what you’d expect, promoting the fact that their man is a local businessman who does something in Whitstable. And one from the aforementioned Monetary Reform Party, who seems to be a one woman band.
Of the Greens, Labour and Lib-Dems, nothing. Silence. That’s just bloody lazy, the Royal Mail will deliver leaflets free of charge for you. Nobody seems to care about winning this seat. Why is that? Let’s look at the numbers shall we?
2005 General Election.
1st - Conservative – Julian Brazier – 21,113 votes, taking 44.4% of the turnout. +2.9%
2nd – Labour – Alex Hilton – 13,642 votes, taking 28.7% of the turnout. -8.2%
3rd – Lib Dems – Jenny Barnard-Langston – 10,059 votes, taking 21.1% of the turnout. +3.3%
4th – Green – Geoffrey Meaden – 1,521 votes, taking 3.2% of the turnout. +1.2%
5th – UKIP – John Moore – 926 votes, taking 1.9% of the turnout. +0.1%
6th – Legalise Cannabis – Rocky van der Benderskum (Where is he this year? Best name in history.) – 326 votes, taking 0.7% of the turnout. +0.7
So of a constituency of 72,000 people, 21,113 of them, less than a third, actually voted for the bloke that won. What led to almost 40% of the electorate staying at home? 24,000 people could have turned this from a ‘safe’ Conservative seat into something completely different.
No doubt UKIP, the party towards whom I am most sympathetic from the choices on offer, were very disappointed with their share of the pie. I would expect them to have a significant improvement this time round. I would also expect the Tory share of the vote to go up, but I also have a sneaking suspicion that the turnout will go down in Canterbury. Not least because the candidates are so hopelessly anonymous.
If I were UKIP, I’d be looking at the lists from 2005, at those who didn’t vote, I’d be bombarding them with material and doing radical things like knocking on their doors and talking to them. But none of the parties really seem interested.
Those 24,000 people who stayed at home could have had a huge say in the way the seat went. Many would have been Tories who knew the result was a foregone conclusion. A few would have been Labour and Lib Dem supporters who knew the same. The majority would have been the don’t knows and don’t cares.
I would never support the idea of compulsory voting, it is your vote and you should be free to do whatever you wish with it. I do not hold with the opinion that those who stay at home have no right to voice an opinion. Why should you turn out to vote when those who are standing don’t really seem that bothered if you vote for them or not?
However I do believe that a vote is the most fantastic thing. There are people living in Myanmar, Saudi, China, a whole host of countries around the world who would look upon a vote that is largely fair as thing of wonder. What really annoys me is the message from the established parties and media that a vote for anyone other than the big 3 (and even including the Lib Dems in that is a stretch) is a wasted one. Don’t believe them. What they are telling you is that your opinion does not count, it is irrelevant. That’s a bloody insult to your intelligence and your worth. The only wasted vote is the one that isn’t used. Even a spoiled ballot is worth something.
24,000 people wasting their votes. Replicated in every seat across the country, indeed I believe the turnout in Canterbury was well above the national average in 2005. What those hundreds of thousands of people could achieve.
Well, I will not be wasting my vote. I’ll not be wasting it on a party that can’t be bothered to campaign for it. You just sit there, expecting me to file through like a good little drone and vote for you when you can’t be arsed to do anything for it? You can’t even be bothered to knock on front door and at least make the pretence that you care about my opinion and support? Well, fuck you.
Speaking with a friend of mine last night, he revealed that he voted BNP in the Europeans last year. I was surprised to hear that, aware of his views of their policies. He explained to me that he did it because they were the only ones who had the decency to knock on his door and actually ask for his vote.
Well, I’m going to cut Anne Belsey of the Monetary Reform Party some slack. I suspect her support network is almost nil, I don’t expect her to knock on my door, there’s only one of her. There’s hundreds of the other fuckers, and if they can’t be bothered with me, then why the hell should I be bothered with them?
Chalk up one for the Monetary Reform Party. I’m betting Ms. Belsey has conviction and genuine belief in what she espouses. That’ll do for me, I’ll vote for the person who believes in something beyond the established parties’ belief in their God given right to my vote.