Heydon Prowse, writing in The Guardian on 28th October 2014 (Russell Brand’s right about democracy – but wrong about how to change it), suggests that the way to take back politics and make our democracy work is to encourage first time voters and the youth vote in general to turn out in numbers.
The glaring problem with this logic, as with most mainstream political analysis at this time, is that it wilfully ignores the root problem.
The current system ensures two party hegemony, regardless of which groups turn out to vote in addition to the overwhelmingly Red or Blue over 65’s. Next May, the government will be Red or Blue no matter what. Even if in coalition with the Lib Dems and smaller parties due to a surge in UKIP, SNP and Green support, it will be the corporatist, establishment Labour or Conservative party calling all the shots. The current system guarantees it.
All that will happen if the youth turn out and vote in numbers next May is that an establishment government will be forced to a) pay lip service to the youth parties of choice for PR reasons only and b) illicit support through lobbying and bribery from any coalition members that they can in order to do exactly what they were going to do anyway.
For this reason, just getting the youth vote out is categorically NOT going to address this root problem. The system itself needs to be reformed from the ground up.
But all the reforms currently being pushed for by established reformist groups like the Electoral Reform Society are desirable only and can therefore be ignored. They are essentially asking Turkey’s to vote for Christmas.
The only reform available to us that is an essential democratic pre-requisite, and so can not be dismissed once properly understood and is therefore achievable in the short to mid term, is inclusion of a bona fide None of the Above option on the ballot paper with formalised consequences for the result if it ‘wins’.
This should be the priority of everybody serious about democracy as it is an achievable game changer that could lead to further democratic reform. Without it, there is literally no reason whatsoever why the establishment would make any significant changes to the way things currently work. For them, the system works just fine. And the more people who endorse it in its current form at the ballot box, the longer it will endure, unchanged and unchallenged.
This is why NOTA is so important and why we do what we do.
Find out more and sign our petition here: https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/inclusion-of-an-official-none-of-the-above-option-for-all-uk-elections-2