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Social Affairs: Vote - lest it be taken from you

Whether we like it or not, whether we are tired of it until our brains hurt or not, Brexit is going to dominate life in the UK for a while before anything close to settlement comes our way. The Brexit Debate has numerous aspects to it and it would seem, almost endless ramifications.

One consequence that has been remarked upon by huge numbers of ordinary people, in print via the letters pages of national newspapers and elsewhere, concerns their entirely justifiable disquiet at the behaviour of the UK’s politicians, every single one of whom has been given their jobs by those same ordinary people. I have of course, commented on that particular issue before and make no apologies for doing so again, although with one important additional point.

The numbers of people, both in those newspaper letters pages and online, who are now saying that they will never vote again is astonishingly high. It is of course, the ultimate demonstration of democracy; the right to cast a vote and to whom that vote is given. That being so, there would seem, on the face of it, to be little to complain about if somebody exercises that right and decides not to.

People mostly don’t vote because they feel that none of the candidates (of any party) represent them or their needs, an entirely understandable viewpoint. There is however, a problem with this stance and it is an incredibly important one. There have been calls in recent times, given the turnout at both local and national elections, to make voting mandatory. Whilst I would argue that it is the civic duty of every eligible citizen to do so, any element of compulsion would be, at the very least, morally wrong. As I have said, the right to decide for oneself who to vote for and whether or not to vote at all, is the inalienable right of every free citizen.

Singer Jamelia was recently castigated for her comments on television when she intimated that elderly people should have their right to vote taken away as they already had decades of doing it, so now it was time to give that right to the young. As an indication of today’s bias against the more mature members of UK society it is hard to think of a more demonstrable example. Her remarks also show an ignorance of two factors; the first is that no matter how young she may be now, Jamelia will get old herself one day. Will she still feel the same way when the inevitable comes along? Will she then rail against the age-phobia that she will then be a victim of? Will she then wail about age discrimination? You bet she will – just as Janet Street-Porter now does. Decades after Street-Porter was in the vanguard of the ‘Yoof Movement’, now that she has become one of those she was so dismissive of, to her credit, Street-Porter has held her hands up and admitted she was wrong all those years ago.

One cannot say that voting is the right only of those under a certain age, especially when so many have fought (and died) for every free citizen to have that right – which is the second factor regarding Jamelia’s comments. Voting was once the preserve of the superior, not the downtrodden peasant. Or entertainers for that matter. No free society can call itself so if it denies the most basic right of all to all – regardless of age and the more years one has, the more experience of life and living one has. That does of course, bring another aspect of voting in to the argument; that of the young and at what age the young become eligible.

The answer to this is really very simple – reach adulthood. Whatever that age might be. If, as some say, sixteen is the right age, then fine, let it be sixteen. If it be eighteen, then let it be eighteen. The simple rule of thumb is that when somebody reaches the age at which they may be employed and pay taxes, then they have the right to vote. Once everybody has, then voting is something that every individual has the right to do, if they decide they wish to. And it appears that an ever-increasing number will not vote again, at least not for the Conservatives or Labour.

But – and it is a very big but, hugely so in fact – if, as many have indicated, they do not vote at all, there are still enough people who are passionate enough (or fanatical enough depending on how you look at it) who will vote and since the majority of people are not going to enter the ballot box and make their mark, then it is a minority who will.

The result of that is a minority of voters vote and a minority party then comes to power. If not such a party, at the very least, either the Conservatives or Labour will form the next government and if disaffected Tories are not voting, and a majority of Labour voters do not, then the fanatical minority that support Jeremy Corbyn will install him in Downing Street. This is how the first extreme-left government of it will destroy the United Kingdom that has existed up to this point in our history.

Are there any alternatives? Are there any other parties that are truly capable of governing the UK? If there were, they would, in all probability, have emerged by now, much as UKIP did prior to the last general election. But UKIP were never really able to command enough support to field credible candidates in enough constituencies across the UK to gain enough seats in parliament. No other party is today either – which still leaves the Tories or Labour. Yet in the event of a historically low turnout, neither of them can honestly say that they have mandate to govern. Not if less than 50 per cent of the eligible voting population do so.

There is one other possible option and one that, if not enshrined in Law by the time of the next general election, one with which ordinary people can show their view that current MPs are not who they wish to represent them. It is one that has been touched upon briefly although without being given much debate and it is the ‘None’ option.

I am admittedly, repeating myself here but make no apologies for doing so as not voting really is not an option.

‘None of the Above’ was the subject of a comedy movie years ago, in which the late Richard Prior had to spend a large sum of money in order to inherit an even larger sum, and one of the methods he used to blow a massive amount was on a ‘None of the Above’ political campaign, the idea being that he would simply pour endless amounts of cash down a bottomless pit. The idea backfired and none of the above struck a chord, resulting in a flood on donations (meaning Prior’s character had to spend even more) and an almost unstoppable movement that threatened to unseat the established political order. A not dissimilar thread saw Donald Trump become US President and Emanuel Macron President of France. Neither man however, are ‘ordinary’. President Trump already had lots of money and was well-known. President Macron is cut from the same cloth as those he sought to replace. And neither had a ‘None of the Above’ option on ballot papers.

How would such an option work since it is not currently an option? There is a very simple answer; when the time comes, rather than not voting, people need to do one of two things, or possibly both. First, write to one’s local party associations, both Conservative and Labour, and demand that, if they want you to vote for them, alternative candidates must be selected. In other words, deselect the incumbent. With the present bunch then gone, why should one not vote? The drawback to this is of course, the current grip the extreme-left has on Labour, with only extreme-left candidates parachuted into place.

The UK has never voted extremists into power so again, when making their demands of local associations, a further requirement must be that each and every candidate deliver their details through your door, giving their background, their political beliefs and so on – every last thing. If subsequently elected, such a candidate is then found to have lied, they are immediately barred, replaced and a new election held. This also of course, applies to every candidate, of every party.

There is however, another way, albeit an imperfect one; go and vote. But, instead of putting a X against any names on the ballot paper, use that big, black pencil to write ‘NONE’ across the paper and thus spoil it.

Spoilt ballot papers are shown to all candidates prior to the result being announced (I have been to a count and seen this done) so if a majority of ballot papers are spoilt, especially a very large majority, no candidate can be taken seriously. This is not without risk; obviously those candidates who did receive votes would be the ones to win, which means a possible flood of independents to the House of Commons or even the Monster Raving Looney Party becoming the largest party in the Commons. Come to think of it, in that instance, there may not be much difference.

The net result however, would still be an unstoppable movement from the electorate for change; change to the present group of MP’s many of whom have proved themselves to be unsuitable, to that requirement for a ‘None’ option on ballot papers. And if ‘None’ was the result, new candidates have to be selected (the existing ones having been rejected) and by-elections held.

Granted the idea of yet more elections and re-runs might not sit well with some, but it is better than what we have at the moment; self-serving non-entities that have no experience of real life and habitually ignore the needs of those who gave them their place in parliament. Unless ordinary people use their vote and demand MPs who really do represent them, the risk is even greater; the risk that the right to vote will, at best be diluted, at worst, taken away altogether. And extreme-left governments, many of whom came to power through elections, have an unenviable record of doing just that.

Again as I have said before, bad politicians are elected by people who do not vote.

© Kevan James 2019.

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