So how do you use a worthless vote?
My options (irrespective of what I thought of their manifestos or feel about their principles and values):
- Vote Conservative – they already hold my seat with a rigour mortis tight grip (since 1924): they don’t need my vote to hold the seat and they could not use it to elect more conservative MPs
- Labour – second last time (well behind -12% behind the Tories): I suppose I could increase the Labour Party’s “popular vote”; but since they don’t believe in the value of the “popular vote” (it can’t elect anyone), I don’t think so. If I was voting in a “Presidential” election, I believe Brown is more principled than Cameron and has deeper values than Clegg; but is not a Presidential Election.
- Liberal – third last time and not exactly high-profile (excluding a few big posters on one of the councillor’s houses); they would welcome support in terms of “popular vote” to increase pressure for change. Perhaps.
- Independent – as visible as the Liberals and wanting to undermine the power of the parties: an attractive proposition but I would be very surprised (but delighted) if he retained his deposit; do I use my vote to help save a good man £500? Perhaps.
- Another Independent – never heard from him (not that I have heard much from the others – election post but no canvassing): I can’t vote for a totally blank cheque (at least I know about 25% of the plans of the main three parties). No
- BNP – No
So how do I use the minuscule value of my vote? To slightly bolster the value of the Liberal’s “popular vote” – but will they be able to use any power and if so will they use it to demand STV (what they demand on the economy is actually irrelevant because I suspect events will overtake us anyway)? I have a horrible feeling that they will compromise to something like AV+.
AV means that you have single member constituencies electing the least unpopular candidate and the “+” means that you then try to get proportionality by allowing parties to nominate additional MPs to make up their strength. Those additional MPs owe their allegiance to their party “list committees”, and have no reason to be responsive to us. If you want MPs who will play the system (like in the last parliament), cut them off from any accountability to the electorate.
I detest parties being able to determine my MP (either through the present system in those constituencies outside the marginals, or through the “+” element of a bastard electoral system like AV+). So do I give two fingers to the party system by voting independent – not that it will make much difference?
I could spoil my vote and write on my ballot paper why I cannot support any of the candidates – at least the agents may have a look at my opinion when trying to determine whether my vote could be interpreted to save a deposit?
Or do I save my shoe-leather and stay at home because the value of my vote (however I use it) is so minuscule as to be worthless? I should not let my enthusiasm carry me away; the reality is that the majority of us do not matter.