I got an email from Tony Blair today. Yes, Tony Blair. See, I must be important.
You know that anti-road-pricing petition that’s been spammed all over the net* recently? And how Tony Blair was going to respond personally? Well, I’ve already had an email from him. So there.
It’s because of a petition I’d entirely forgotten about signing, about how ID cards are a bad idea, won’t work, and will waste billions of pounds. Tony Blair wrote to tell me just how great they are, and how my participation in democracy is so important that he’s going to ignore me personally. Not just any of that old generic ignoring that everyone else gets, you understand. Personal service.
I feel touched. No, honest. See, with modern communication, the Prime Minister can tell me, personally, how he’s going to ignore what everyone else in the country wants. Now that’s what I call democracy.
* well, the British bits of it
Local election day today, and, as I said on Saturday, I won’t be voting for either of the two candidates I have.*
No doubt the politicians would write me off as an Apathetic Non-Voter. That’s because, whenever someone chooses not to vote, the politicans write it off as if it’s the voter’s problem. They never seem to consider what everyone else is telling them: that it’s the politicians who have the problem, not the voters. Politics is the cause of low turnout, not the result of it.
Having said that, we get the politicians we deserve, and clearly right now we don’t deserve much. So, even if you don’t vote today,** go out and do something less boring else instead. If, like me, you know voting won’t make a difference, go out and do something that will.
* Is it legal to say that at this time of day, or should I be waiting until after the polls have closed? When I saw that there were only two candidates, incidentally, my first thought was: “Bah, why didn’t I think to stand myself?” Vote for the Symbolic Forest Party – a genuine choice! Vote for the Symbolic Forest Party – the local party for local people! Vote for the Symbolic Forest Party – we hate politicians as much as you do! I’m strongly for more independent members in local government, as long as they are relatively sensible.
** Although of course only about 50% of British adults will be eligible to vote anyway today, depending on where you live.
As I said yesterday, I’ve been pondering the rather rubbish choice we have in the forthcoming local elections. Checking the candidate list in the local paper, I discovered that in our ward there is a grand total of two candidates for the available seat: one Labour and one Tory. Oh, what a choice I have.
At least, if I don’t vote, I don’t have to worry about letting in any of the Nasty Parties in this ward. The reason we only have a choice of two candidates is that we currently have a hung council governed by a Tory-Liberal coalition. To try to ensure at least some slice of the pie, the local Tories and Lib Dems have agreed that neither can beat Labour on their own.* They’ve also agreed not to compete against each other; each seat has a Labour candidate, and a Tory-Liberal Coalition candidate, although of course they’re careful not to say that out loud.
Now, I know that local politics is important, and should be all about local issues, nothing to do with national politics. The current Tory-Liberal council was elected on local issues – largely, the enormous deficit run up by the previous Labour administration. Nevertheless, on Friday morning, all of the party leaders will be trumpeting their results as being a vote of suppose for their national policies. I can’t bring myself to vote for a party that wants to bring in an expensive and repressive identity-tracking database; and neither can I bring myself to vote for a party run by Norman Lamont’s old sidekick. Right. That’s my vote out of the window, then.
People always complain about voter apathy, but I’m not being apathetic here. I’m making a deliberate choice to abstain, because my choices range from bad to worse. The problem is: I want the parties to realise that I’m not apathetic. So, the plan** is: write to the candidates and tell them why I’m not voting for them. Write to the local Lib Dem leadership and ask them if they really think that their effective merger with the Tories is really a good thing for local democracy. Write a sarcastic letter to Lib Dem head office applauding their “let’s not stand against the Tories” attitude, and asking if they plan to continue it at the next general election. Above all, make sure they all realise that just because I’m not voting, it doesn’t mean I don’t care, or that I’m not interested in local politics. Let’s see if I get any replies.
* The local council follows the standard county-wide voting pattern: red on the council estates and in the Victorian terraces; blue as soon as you get anywhere near fields or big gardens; odd patches of yellow in suburban villages.
** Assuming I am not too lazy