That is a legitimate question mark in the title of this piece, as I honestly don’t know now. There may be a debate to be had as if it ever was but that isn’t the point, and also in my case it isn’t exactly true either.
I don’t vote in UK general elections.
Or rather I should categorically state that I do go to the polling stations and I do put a mark on the ballot. Sometimes more than one mark. Sometimes smiley faces. Sometimes quotes from songs.
I spoil my ballot. There is no party that currently, or for any duration of my voting eligibility, has “promised” enough in their manifesto to make it worth my proper vote but I still hold on to the power of a democratic vote and owe it to at least participate in the process, at least as a thanks to those that fought for it in the UK and for those that don’t have any say in their country’s politics, the world over.
Is that a virtue signal, possibly.
I always vote in my local elections though and therein lies the duality of my choice of legitimate vote versus spoiling.
You see my local council (Wigan) is Labour dominated but I dislike them immensely for their insular, Wigan-centric outlook. Local politics is a microcosm for the general malaise of UK politics in general. Wigan looks after Wigan and a few other areas but damns the smaller towns with a few pounds from the coffers ever election cycle. Wigan itself suffers at the hands of Greater Manchester County Council and their, insular, Manchester city centre-centric outlook. And then of course the whole of the North suffers from the national governments and parliaments bubble London-centric outlook.
And the more the local towns vote for independent councillors (or anything that isn’t Labour) the less scraps they get.
On the national front (no pub) though, due to boundary changes, my constituency just happens to be a swing one and so my vote there does actually count for something.
But regardless of who my MP was, thanks to a rather unionised, militant mother, I’ve always been a fan of emailing them about the bigger issues that I’m bothered about and the responses were always less than stellar up until my most recent MP got voted in.
Enough for me to vote for them? On an individual level, quite possibly, on a party political one, quite possibly not.
The shadow of Brexit looms large over all these decisions and whereas the UK has a first past the post (FPTP) system of deciding who “runs” the country for 4-5 year stints, the referendum was an example of not only direct democracy but of highlighting just why our current elected officials aren’t big fans of it, as you can never rely on getting the result you want.
And so I find myself hemmed in. 650 elected MPs, the majority of which do not wish to enact the result of the referendum of 2016, figuring out ways of getting out of it.
Aided and abetted by a willing media and a very vocal loser contingent. I use loser not as a pejorative but as a fact, though maybe minority contingent would be better, despite the other images that my conjure up.
A few marches of dubious attendance and an online petition of dubious signatories seem to give credence to wish to halt a process that hasn’t been started properly, because it was never fully committed to in the first place.
Forget about alleged lies and bus slogans, alleged election interference and spending tactics, these are all just bluster to hide the shock of a loss.
What is at stake is what a disaffected populous does if they become even more disaffected with the world around them that only shows the glaringly obvious that they have no say it what happens to them.
The donning of hi-vis jackets won’t do anything. Nor will mass strikes. What small amount of power you think you have will just be crushed, possibly physically but at its worst, emotionally.
And then you have to wonder if it is worth taking part in a process you weren’t really welcome in, in the first place.
But when the anti-democrats win and a cheer goes up and all those they labelled with slurs from the very beginning have been put in their place, the precedent will have been set.
Think of it as being stuck in traffic and getting annoyed with those that don’t use their indicators, or drive without lights when it is dark. Think more on those that never move out of the way of a fire engine or ambulance or police car that is on an emergency call and that desire, deep inside you that secretly, darkly hopes that one day they will know that their action could result in the first responding vehicle they blocked was stopped from attending an incident involving someone they cared about.
Think of Newton’s third law of motion and then realise that a government with power never has a reaction that is equal.
Vive la second law of thermodynamics.
Thanks for reading.