I’m not just a floating voter, I’m a total castaway. Lost without direction or plan. Last year my problem was solved by a web site that measured my views and told me which party came closest. So (for the first time) I voted Green as best representing my views. Don’t you love The Interweb? This year I took a similar test and discovered that Green comes sixth out of six in matching my views! Labour came first, to my shock as I had not even considered voting Labour.
Stop. Take a deep breath. Let’s work this out methodically. The first question must be “Do I trust these politicians”. If not there really is no point in voting. They receive very little trust or respect in our society, but then, who does? So let’s take their information as true and their advice as wise.
Now, How exactly does democracy work? Everyone votes for what they want – indirectly – by voting for someone who wants the same thing they want. That’s simple. Except that a minority up to 49% gets no representation. Or do they? I trust the politician who announces that while they are delighted to have been elected by 51% they promise to serve 100% in harmony. For example, Baroness Thatcher. But that’s unfair to the 51% who voted for Policy A, and are now being told that we’re getting a mish-mash of policy A and B, ..and these days some bits of C, D, E and F.
We don’t have a constitution but we do have a system where a geographical carve-up of the votes repeats the above issue on a small scale but hundreds of times. The party whips then fight it out with each MP to stop them from introducing any variation from total unity and sovereignty inside that party. And so we go from millions of votes being reduced to a single leader influencing change while up to 49% of the votes count for little for 4 years at a time.
I’m very happy with this system. Proportional Representation (PR) would give voice to the wrong people. For example, let’s assume that some people are racist, but not many. They get no seats in parliament, which is a good thing. But PR would give one seat out of 400 to every 0.25% of the population that vote for a racist party, which is a bad thing.
But so far, I assumed that I am expected to vote for my own self-interest, based on the assumption that we should all vote selfishly and the voting process will most widely represent the self interest of the maximum number of people. For example, Party X promises to limit house price increases to the inflation rate and immediately loses the votes of all existing house owners, while gaining the votes of all prospective house owners.
If that is how we vote, then nothing will change unless more people benefit than lose form that change. But what if we vote instead for what is right? Maybe some people do. Perhaps some people voted for the Green party even before conservationists started to develop policies and technologies that propose to preserve our resources without costing more?
For example, if you voted against a welfare state, should that be because you resent paying your own tax towards someone else to have medical care or a roof? You’d rather like to keep your money. Or should it be because you believe assistance is a disincentive to hard work? It doesn’t only depend on your view of good-poor (innocent & unfortunate) vs. bad poor (guilty & lazy), it also depends on whether you think democracy is trying to proportionally represent our self-interest or if democracy is seeking consensus on the right thing to do.
Then there’s tactical voting. It’s bizarre that the leader of the currently elected party has advised people to vote tactically. He warned the voters that if they vote X, they’ll get Y, when they’d prefer Z to Y. Therefore (he implies) do NOT vote for the party that represents your self interest, or the party that you think represents our common interest because (he implies) there’s no point in voting for the losers.
Even though I don’t know how to vote, in fact I need lots of votes. I’d like to vote Green for energy policy; Conservative for economic growth; Lib-Dem to have another go at Education fees; Labour for railway and housing; and for the comedian who plays that Nigel Farage character to have his own show on Saturday night. I’d like us all to split up our votes between them, and even between the separatists promising to discontinue the very country they’re supposedly being elected to lead.
And then I’d like to see a proper process for forming a government when there’s no majority. I’m told that there has to be a majority party or a majority coalition. But the arguably the best (most effective and progressive) British government was the all-party war-time government of the 1940s. And I want the parties who got the most votes to form the coalition. Not the parties that came 1st and 3rd, as happened last time. That must be democratic and representative. I reject the parties complaint that “We can’t get on together”. Tough. I have to work with my co-employees whether or not we “get on”.
After all, do they actually believe in different things? They pretend to. Conservative like to say that Labour would have got it wrong for economic growth and vice versa; but in fact Conservatives increased public spending, and cut the deficit at half the promised rate, as recommended by Labour, so I think they’re all aiming for a good balance and trying to be a Centre Party. The idea that a party “Stands for Something” is only used in negative accusations these days. The BBC will interview a loser by asking if they “got their message wrong”, thus implying that it is the politicians’ job to make promises and state goals that attract the greatest popularity, rather than to clarify exactly what their idealism points to. It is not an ideal to say that you want a fair society where “opportunity is equal and hard work is rewarded”. That’s just like a CV describing the applicant as “creative thinker and a team player”.
Finally, I’d just like to say two things to politicians about myself as a retired old person. 1. I am very likely to vote, so I am the one you need to make happy. Go for it! And 2. I don’t have a job. I’m a busy volunteering but have time for blogging, so the phrase “hard working families” doesn’t turn me on. From a selfish point of view