Monday, May 08, 2006

Disaffection is their problem, not ours

New Statesman:
Ultimately, the best way to ensure greater participation in politics is for politicians to remember that it is they who have an obligation to the public rather than the other way round. They should remember in these scandal-ridden times that theirs is a mandatory requirement to serve us with honesty and integrity. Ours is a voluntary act to give them our vote. Any decision not to is a logical response to the options available. The problem lies with the politicians, not the voters.
Like I said, until very recently, I favoured the idea of compulsory voting. The more I've thought about it, the more convinced I am that the system needs fixing, and enforced voting will lead to even more dissilutioned and alienated voters. Power to the People!


Paulie said...

Fixed terms? Compulsory voting? What is happening in lib-dem land?

Surely people have the right to withhold their vote? And they have the right not to be bothered to vote.

Firstly, one criticism that I know you'll take seriously: Labour's biggest problem at election times is to get their vote out. It is a bigger problem for them than the other parties (that is the received wisdom, anyway). So are you sure you're still in favour of it.

But, more to the point, the increasing blandness of politics is precisely the result of politicians chasing the least decisive individuals and least likely to vote.

I find it thoroughly objectionable that a handful of ditherers who have the lowest level of conviction are elevated to being almost the sole target for the communications of all of the major parties at election time. Because they are, whether you like it or not.

I'd like to do the reverse. I'd like to set up a fund that will pay to encourage people who don't know and don't care not to vote. I'd like people to understand that their vote is important. That when you cast a vote, it has consequences for others. And it shouldn't be done lightly.

I'd suggest that a lower turnout shouldn't be regarded as an indicator of an unhealthy democracy in itself. Look at Italy! Massive turnout - and a complete arse of a civil society.

That's all. Carry on with what you were doing.

MatGB said...

Um, Paulie? I'm now against compulsory voting, that's what it says above. It's your lot (Hain and Hoon) who are coming out in favour of it.

As to the rest, at work (still), proper reply later...

Paulie said...

Ok. Er.... good point.

Note to self: Notice when someone says "...until recently."

But *returning to the offensive*, are you saying that you were all for it, until bits of Labour came out for it, in which case you're against it?

MatGB said...

Um, no. I finally realised I'd changed my mind the day before the IPPR report came out (seriously, had no idea), then I read Chris' post at QWGLHM and it swayed me - I read about the IPPR thing and it finalised the position. No idea if Chris was aware of it, but reading it finally tipped me. Discussed it a bit here.

Like I said, stupid idea and blogging (and thus writing about my ideas) has forced me to think things through a lot.

Also, I'm anti the current authoritarian tendency in this Govt, and am one of the archetypally "betrayed" former Blair supporters; I thought, when he came in, the whole "big tent" consensus etc, that he was going to be a great reforming PM, that we'd finally get a fixed constitution, honest politics, debate leading to consensus.

Instead we've got more and more spin. Like I've said already, watching Gordon closely; if he does succeed (and it's him or Reid? ouch), then if he really does start implementing the Power stuff and do some genuine changes, my current very anti stance may change.

Voted Labour in 2001. If Blair's Labour hadn't played to the gallery ever since 7/7 I probably wouldn't be as angry with the whole mess.