It’s my vote and I’ll “waste it” if I want to!!

*NB: If it’s after midnight on 20th April you can skip the first paragraph*

Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the past 48 hours, it probably hasn’t escaped your notice that the deadline for registering to vote in at midnight tonight. TONIGHT PEOPLE! Have you done it? Have you??? If you haven’t then I forbid you from reading the rest of this post, go to the website now and register (then come back and read this post, obvs). Do it or relinquish all rights to complain about anything for the next 5 years. That’s right, no moaning about schools or hospitals or roadworks or buses or whichever smug git lives in Number 10. A life without moaning, ask yourself, is it really worth living?? Speaking of which…

Now that the public service announcement is out of the way I can get back to my regularly scheduled programme of malcontentedness. So, the election campaign, are you bored of it yet? If like me you tuned in to the first 10 minutes of the leaders’ debates, thought “yeah, that’s about what I expected” and then switched it off, then you may well be sick of all the posturing and blaming and general non-answering of questions that characterises electioneering. I am sort of sick of it too, though I’m finding this election more engaging than usual. Maybe that’s because it’s a bit more unpredictable or because there are some women front-and-centre (or should I say front-and-left *self-satisfied chuckle*) for a change. Whatever it is, I can generally deal with the politics of it all. What I am really earth-shatteringly bored – and what I have been angry about for a long time now – is the way that every major party wants me to believe that only a vote for them ‘counts’.

My constituency was Labour until 2005 but for the past 10 years it’s been Lib Dem (sorry guys, I didn’t know what I was doing!!). Consequently its hard fought turf this time around. I haven’t seen so much as a leaflet from another candidate, whilst I’m practically getting junk-mailed to death by Lab and Lib alike. That’s a shame in itself, but it’s not surprising given the fact that both parties would like us all to believe that any other vote is a wasted vote.

A wasted vote? A WASTED vote? The only wasted vote is one not cast. Emily Davidson didn’t die under the hooves of the king’s horse so that I could make a strategic best-of-a-bad-bunch decision. She died so that I could express my political will gosh darn it! Well, obviously not just my will, like all women’s ever, but you catch my drift. Imagine my dismay then, when literature like this comes through the letterbox.

I have obscured the main text of this leaflet out of fairness to the other candidates (not a childish impulse to deface election material).

I have obscured the main text of this leaflet out of fairness to the other candidates (not a childish impulse to deface election material).

Grr, arg. It drives me mad to think that people who dedicate their lives to politics are basically telling the electorate not to vote with their conscience because it won’t work. I mean W the actual F? So, I’ve added a few corrections:

lib dems corrected

Better, right?

‘But wait there my dear!’ I hear you cry ‘Under the first-past-post system it isn’t entirely misleading to argue the point that tactical voting can be very effective and voting for smaller parties is generally less so. In fact it can split the vote and produce what you would see the worst outcome’ Well yes. But also, NO!

If half the voters in my constituency voted Green or UKIP (heaven forfend!), we’d have a Green/UKIP MP. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that people could engage with the issues can CHANGE THEIR MINDS. Nor is it impossible that A LOT of us are dissatisfied with the choices put forward by the major parties. But let me illustrate my point with a few examples:

Labour say that only voting for them will guarantee getting the Tories out. Well of course they bloody do! They want left wing people to vote for them and not defect to Plaid Cymru or the SNP or the Greens. And yes, it is of course true that a Labour majority would mean no more Tory government but I’d like to think that the British electorate could work them out for themselves. #PatronisingMuch? Also, if there was a lefty coalition made up of all of the above Cameron would also get booted out. #justsaying

The Conservatives say vote for them or be ‘condemned’ to a Labour/SNP coalition. Well unless you are choosing between the Tories and the SNP (unlikely I’d say) then this doesn’t really apply either. But you see they don’t want right wing voters to defect to UKIP. Are you observing a pattern of self-interest here??

The Lib Dems say vote for them or you’ll get coalitions in the extreme. Unless they hold ‘the balance of power’ we’ll either be living in a distopian communist state or a sort of UKIP-flavoured Third Reich Light, apparently. Sigh. Can you hear that? It’s that the sound straws being clutched at.

The SNP say vote for them or you’ll get a Labour government that’s not Laboury enough. Now, before I go on with this one I should say that I am firmly aboard the we-love-Nicola-Sturgeon band-wagon and would probably vote SNP if they stood in Manchester. BUT again, the SNP are saying this because Labour are their main rivals and they want voters to defect to them!

Of course, the smaller parties make less bold claims, but take a moment to dream with me hear, what if everyone just said something like this:

First of all, I urge you to vote and vote for the party, manifesto and candidate that speaks most to your principles and beliefs. Secondary to this I would like to you consider voting Labour/Lib Dem/Conservative/Green/UKIP/SNP/Plaid and here’s why…

Am I living in a Utopian dream world? Maybe. More accurately I’m living in an episode of the West Wing in which President Bartlett goes off-script and rouses the nation into a frenzy of enfranchisement. But dear political candidates, could you all just shut up about who you’ve decided is ‘worth’ voting for and just talk to me about your policies? I’ll listen, at least for the first ten minutes.

Will you be tactically voting this time around? Will you be voting at all? Share your views by commenting below, tweeting me @aafew or going to my facebook page.

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