This article is dedicated to Dave. He’s a good guy, but he told me this week that he doesn’t vote, he can’t see the point, he doesn’t think it makes any difference.
Dave – and all others who have the same view (and sadly, there are many of them) – need to be reminded of the wise and powerful maxim:
BAD POLITICIANS ARE ELECTED BY GOOD PEOPLE WHO DON’T VOTE
That couldn’t be more true than in today’s European Parliament election, in which it’s anticipated that Nigel Farage’s ‘Brexit Party’ will win by a landslide.
That’s not because most voters in Britain support the Brexit Party – whose only policy is for the UK to leave the EU without any deal, and whose leader, Nigel Farage, has for many years promoted a nasty hatred of foreigners.
On the contrary, most people in Britain don’t want the UK to leave the EU, let alone to leave without any deal, that will cause harm and suffering, most of all to the country’s poorest and most vulnerable.
→ Over 60 consecutive polls since the 2017 general election all say the same: most voters don’t want Brexit. (They never did – only a minority of voters voted for Brexit in the first place, just 37% of the electorate).
→ All the government’s economic assessments – and those of most economists – comprehensively conclude that all versions of Brexit will make us worse off, and that a no-deal Brexit will be catastrophic.
A low turnout in today’s European election will favour Nigel Farage’s party, just as it did in the last European election back in 2014.
In the UK’s 2014 EU election, Mr Farage’s previous party, UKIP, won 24 seats in the European Parliament – more than any other British party.
Yet less than 10% of the UK electorate voted for Mr Farage’s party in 2014, because only 34% of the electorate voted at all.
That’s the problem with low turn-outs in elections: the results are fair only for the minority who vote, but not necessarily reflective of the true feelings of the majority who don’t.
The smaller the turnout at elections, the less chance we get the governments and politicians that the majority want.
A small turnout will favour a greater win for Mr Farage.
It will be mostly those who don’t vote, rather than those who do, that today will give Mr Farage and his party power.
• Those who say that voting doesn’t make a difference are hiding their heads in the sand.
Remain would have won the 2016 referendum if those who could vote but didn’t had voted.
Around 13 million people registered to vote in the EU referendum didn’t vote. But polls indicate that most of them would have voted for Remain.
What’s more, about 7 million people entitled to register to vote didn’t do so.
That makes a total of around 20 million people who could vote but didn’t in the 2016 referendum, and about the same numbers that didn’t vote but could have done in the 2017 general election.
Those missing voters represent a huge dent in our democracy. If all those who don’t vote all voted for the same party, that party would win the biggest landslide in history.
The right to vote was hard won, and took many centuries.
• Those who don’t vote, but can, are lazily riding on the backs of those who fought hard for our right to vote, and to have a say in who governs us and the lives we will lead.
Despite our moans, in the United Kingdom – and across Europe – many of us enjoy among the best lives on the planet, with those on just an average wage belonging to the world’s top 1% of earners.
Just look at all the rights we’ve won through the power of voting:
- The right to a childhood;
- to universal education;
- to healthcare;
- to clean air and water;
- the right to free movement;
- to use the roads and pavements and parks;
- to leave and return to the country;
- to be protected at home, in the street and at work and in times of need;
- to call for help in an emergency;
- to go about and enjoy our lives in relative freedom.;
- to resolve disputes in courts, and even to take the government to court if they overreach their power.
Here we have a better life than most others on the planet because, and ONLY BECAUSE, of our right to vote.
Without the power to choose or discard politicians and governments, we would not have any of the freedoms and the better lives we have won through the ballot box.
• By not voting you diminish and weaken us all.
• You reduce and ridicule our power of emancipation.
• You are lessening by one vote, your discarded vote, all our powers of choice.
The fewer people who vote, the more politicians and governments know they have more control over us to do as they want and not as we want.
The message of the non-voter to politicians is: “We don’t care; do as you please; you choose how you want to run my life.”
When people don’t vote, who can vote – in local, national and European elections – governments and politicians know they have less eyes watching them.
They realise they can get away with passing laws that many voters will not protest or care about or even bother to find out about.
• Those who can vote but don’t are taking advantage of all of us who can vote and do.
Non-voters benefit from all the hard-won democratic rights of the people, but feel disdainfully above any obligation to help to win and retain those rights.
When things go wrong; when there’s a fight to make things better; they absent themselves from any need to become involved, even though the effort to enter a cross in a box on a piece of paper is miniscule.
• Those who can vote but don’t dishonour those who lost blood to give us the ballot. The power of persuasion, the participation in democracy, the right to vote, seem to mean little or nothing to them.
In countries where there is no vote, dictatorship governments can rule for decades and decades with no opportunity for the people to get rid of them.
Instead of the ballot, the peoples’ only chance is to resort to the bullet, at huge personal risk, with no guarantee of success, and mostly with the greatest chance that they will fail and be mercilessly crushed.
How much those people envy our right to hire or fire politicians with the simple, easy use of a vote.
Maybe our nation’s voluntary non-voters, would be convinced of the beauty and brilliance of the ballot if they lived in a country where people don’t vote because they can’t vote; where the brute force of unelected rulers control and subjugate them.
But then, it would be too late, wouldn’t it?
Please don’t reduce the power of democracy by not taking part in it.
Democracy is not perfect, but it’s the best form of governance that we know.
It gives the population the right to choose who rules.
Politicians need to know that we are their masters, and that can only come through the ballot.
And those who don’t yet have democracy need to know that we cherish it, that it’s worth fighting for, and that it’s a right we never, ever want to lose.
Dave, today, please vote.
Every Remain vote will count on this Thursday, 23 May, in the European Elections. It’s essential that Remain voters take this democratic opportunity to say that they want to #StopBrexit.
There are five anti-Brexit parties in the European elections.
Yes, it would have been better if they had agreed to collaborate, rather than compete against each other. But we are where we are, and a vote for an anti-Brexit party – any one of them – will count as a vote against Brexit.
Many Remain supporters will want to consider voting tactically, to ensure the greatest chance of Remain candidates winning in their region.
Please take a look at my 15-minute compilation video that sets out the case for each of the five anti-Brexit parties. These parties are:
Take your pick. But please, pick one. Make the pro-Remain, anti-Brexit vote count, with your vote.
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