Sunday, 9 May 2010

another quiet night in england

The punishment we suffer, if we refuse to take an interest in matters of government, is to live under the government of worse men. (Plato)

I understand that there was a 65.1% turnout for this election.  Is that all?  I thought from the fuss and speculation that it would be nearer 85%! I thought that the electorate had been motivated this time.  Or that is what the media would have us believe?  Personally, I don't think that's a very good turnout.  Obviously it's better than usual (in recent years) - but, come on! It's not very good is it?

It is the easiest thing in the world to complain about something - sniping from the sidelines, as it were. Rooseveldt (FDR) said, "Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves - and the only way they can do that is by not voting." Ignore Americans and think about our own refuseniks. We have to vote to have a voice. As A.C. Grayling pointed out, unless you make people pay for the advice you give, they will not heed it.  He also said that if you give people democratic rights as a free entitlement of citizenship, they appear to disregard it, failing to see how precious and important it is. The news we often recieve of foreign citizens queuing all day to cast their vote (such as South Africa after Apartheid was overthrown) puts into perspective our own very recent news bulletins of dissatisfied queuing voters.  They have the right to vote - and I'm aware of the ignorance of some commentators (Facebookers - tcha!) who complain that voters "should of (sic) got to the Polling Stations earlier" (!) What, and queued for even longer and still be turned away?

There are few more important matters than electing a government. The required solution is that voting should be compulsory (I'm not interested in arguments about free will etc - let's have "none of the above" on the ballot papers).  Again, I refer to A. C. Grayling who suggests that "sceptics and idlers" may think that their single vote may not make a difference either way, but they are wrong in both practice and principle.  Al Gore's fate in Florida a few year's ago suggets the first is wrong.

As for the latter, every refusal to vote is an act of self-disenfranchisement in which a citizen, betraying the endeavours of history, demotes himself to a serf.

Oh, and as you can take the boy out of Hertfordshire but can't take Hertfordshire out of the boy, I was heartened to read that David Barnes, an independent candidate in Hertford and Stortford managed to poll no votes at all.  He didn't even vote for himself.

I'll give the closing words to messrs Jones and Telford of The Oysterband:

It's just another quiet night in England
They turn away if you let it out
They think you're mad if you scream and shout
And another quiet night goes by . . .


Mike C. said...

This election has been a classic demonstration of the power of the media to distort reality -- the press feeding frenzy over Cleggmania will have had real results, but of an unpredictable sort. "Power without responsibility" indeed.

I'm persuaded that compulsory voting may be a way forward, coupled with electoral reform, and a ban on polls.


Brendini said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brendini said...

How would a compulsory vote be enforced?

Mike C. said...

Enforcement? Why, ridicule, chemical castration, seizure of goods, that sort of thing. Not sure what would be most effective, really. Branding is what they use in Australia, I believe.

I suppose the down side (apart from the bureaucratic knock-on of organising floggings for 40% of the population) is that the loony vote would go through the roof, as reluctant voters would have their revenge by refusing to vote for the grown-ups.

It's true, of course, that most countries have long ago abandoned this idea.


Dave Leeke said...

Hmmm . . I'm not so sure. It seems that quite a few countries do have compulsory voting. However, in a 2007 report on compulsory voting, Peter Hain as Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and Wales, said: “I particularly support the recommendation to design a voting system that regards participation in the democratic process as a civic duty.”
Check it out on:

However, it is obvious that prison isn't the answer! Perhaps their right to vote could be taken away? Er . . .

Andy Wright said...

The appalling Brown will shortly be looking for a job one presumes, (although I understand that he and Sarah may be doing some charity work in the perfectly lovely.) perhaps he could be appointed as Her Majesty's Vote Enforcer? He has after all considerable experience in the art of bullying so I would consider him to be an ideal candidate.

Dave Leeke said...

You're a bit upset about Gordon resigning, aren't you?

Andy Wright said...

I shall miss him a similar way to how I missed the two wisdom teeth I had extracted in 1981 which caused me indescribable agony for the three months leading up to the operation!

Ps read something over the weekend about the Head of a school in Felixstowe getting himself in a bit of bother over an inappropriate liaison with a staff the risk of sounding like a character in a soap opera....."Have you got any goss on this, innit?"

pps I just love some of the words that appear on this site in order to feed the 'Word verification' box. Tonight's is 'clogin' Excellent!

Dave Leeke said...

Good point - as Mike Chisholm has pointed out on his rather excellent blog "Idiotic Hat" that we have no control over these verification words. I have no idea how they are supposed to work either.

But "clogin" sounds too close to "clogging" to be coincidence. Much of my 1970s persona spent time reading Bill Tidy's "The Cloggies" in Private Eye and listening (far too much) to "Morris On". There will have to be a blog soon on the act of "Clogging". Thanks for that - food for thought!