Monthly Archives: November 2014

Appeal to Reason and Logic RE: The NOTA Party

Here at NOTA UK we have been campaigning since 2010 for inclusion of a bona fide ‘None of the Above’ option ‘with teeth’ on UK ballot papers for all future elections. We have made significant inroads during that time and as a result of our efforts, those who support and campaign for NOTA are now much closer to achieving our collective aims than we were even 12 months ago.

But there’s a problem.

There is a perceived split in the NOTA movement that makes it extremely difficult for these successes to be fully appreciated and capitalised upon.

This is because there is a group known as Notavote / The NOTA Party (@NoneAboveUK on Twitter – we are @NOTAcampaign), who for the past year or so have been pursuing their own agenda very much outside of, and running contrary to, NOTA UK’s efforts.

Having failed to get their party name on the ballot paper next May, they now intend to stand a number of independent candidates on a NOTA platform that will apparently stand down if elected, potentially simulating how actual NOTA might work in practice.

NOTA UK have been saying for years that this is the only way standing actual candidates to draw attention to the need for NOTA could work. When Notavote came into being, and we put this to them, we were shouted down and ignored. They then embarked on a fruitless year long quest to get themselves on the ballot paper as a new party standing on a supposedly NOTA platform, but with every intention of taking up seats if elected – a complete contradiction in terms.

They have changed tack now, simply because their ambitions were recently thwarted by the Electoral Commission, who rightly decided that their approach had the potential to confuse voters into thinking they could vote for an actual NOTA option when in fact they would be voting for just another party. Indeed, that is exactly what the NOTA party were doing in order to garner support: claiming that a vote for them would be equivalent to voting for actual NOTA, when clearly this is not the same thing at all.

In the meantime, by presenting themselves as THE campaign for NOTA (despite NOTA UK pre-dating them by at least two years) they have done nothing but undermine the good work we’ve set out to do and made it near impossible for our achievements to be noticed above their noise and chatter.

People now routinely think that they, with all their contradictions and ill thought through propaganda exploits, are us.

This is a huge problem, from a presentation point of view. If we are to achieve our aims, such issues must be addressed and resolved. But alas, every attempt by us to date to reason with them has fallen on deaf ears.

As well as setting up a petition, making inroads with the mainstream media and producing educational videos about the absence of NOTA, the need for it and how it would work, NOTA UK has also submitted numerous written evidence submissions to the parliamentary Political and Constitutional Reform Committee. The upshot of all this is that we are now very much recognised as the voice of the campaign for actual NOTA in the UK in one of the key places that matters i.e.: the corridors of power. Outside of those corridors, however, we find ourselves forever chasing our tails and scrabbling around trying to divert people away from our well intentioned, but massively counter-productive, doppelgänger.

Enough is enough.

Now that the NOTA party / Notavote’s bid to establish itself as a new political party has failed, it MUST now publicly come out as fully endorsing our campaign and accept that it is, and always should have been, playing a supporting role to us and nothing more.

If that includes them standing independents that will stand down if elected as way of highlighting the problem and simulating actual NOTA (still risky from a PR point of view, but potentially useful) then so be it. Such a strategy can be discussed.

But continuing to muddy the waters by refusing to acknowledge NOTA UK’s four year existence and its significant achievements whilst drawing people away from our long term campaign is not an option as it would be completely counter-productive to the aim of getting actual NOTA on the ballot paper for all future UK elections.

This is an appeal to reason and logic, nothing more. Do we all want NOTA on the ballot paper for real or not?!

If so, then The NOTA Party / Notavote will, from today, get with the program and start publicly supporting and highlighting our efforts, rather than undermining them, and start communicating with us properly to ensure that their activities are in line with ours.

If not, then we are clearly pursuing two totally different agendas. Only time will tell.

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
28/11/14

Open Letter to Terry Marsh

Dear Terry,

NOTA UK’s efforts of the past four years are now seeing significant progress:

NOTA UK secures inclusion of ‘None of the Above’ in public consultation on possible reform

With that in mind, it would be really helpful if you could please try and persuade Notavote / The NOTA Party to stop presenting themselves as the official NOTA campaign, start supporting us fully and send people our way from now on. They are a contradictory political party, nothing more, one that is not even able to stand candidates as things currently stand. By contrast, as well as the undeniable progress towards our goal that we have made, NOTA UK now has growing credibility and provides access to NOTA based educational materials.

All of this is being undermined massively by the fact that people all too often, including media people, come looking for us and find Notavote instead. The result is that they end up diverted away from our well thought through, well presented, solid arguments for actual NOTA and towards the aspirations of a well meaning but delusional splinter group. They then dismiss the movement accordingly. This has to end.

We are closer than ever before to getting the absence of NOTA, the need for it and why it is achievable embedded in the mainstream public consciousness. But it’s never going to happen all the while we are pulling in different directions.

We know what we are doing. This was very much your baby in the beginning, please consider getting involved and doing what needs to be done to help us achieve our common goal. The time is now for Notavote to step aside and get properly behind our campaign. If they did, we’d all be on our way.

Thanks for reading.

Yours sincerely,
Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK

How to register your NOTA support as part of the PCRC public consultation

Below is some suggested text for any NOTA supporters wanting to take part in the parliamentary Political and Constitutional Reform Committee’s public consultation into ‘voter engagement’ (Deadline: Friday 14th January):

“I welcome the committee’s decision to include the possibility of having a formal ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option added to the UK ballot paper as part of its public consultation into ‘voter engagement’. However, I am disappointed that this is only in the context of possibly making voting compulsory.

I feel strongly that NOTA is an essential democratic pre-requisite that should be an option at elections regardless of whether voting is made compulsory or not.

If properly implemented, it has the potential to be a game changing reform that would not only engage the many millions of registered and unregistered voters who currently choose to abstain, but also level the playing field considerably, potentially leading to long overdue wider democratic reform of our entire system of government.

With that in mind, I urge you to consider introducing NOTA as an electoral reform in and of itself.”

You are of course free to make your own representations. All submissions have to made here ( Submit Written Evidence ) following these guidelines.

You can also follow and tweet the committee here: @CommonsPolCon

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All media enquiries to stan(at)mailmanstan.co.uk

NOTA UK secures inclusion of ‘None of the Above’ in public consultation on possible reform

GREAT NEWS!

NOTA UK’s evidence submission to the parliamentary Political and Constitutional Reform Committee looking into ‘voter engagement’ has secured inclusion of ‘None of the Above’ as a possible reform to be included in a public consultation. It is only in the context of introducing compulsory voting unfortunately, which is frustrating as NOTA should be in place regardless of whether voting is compulsory or not and should be being considered as a reform in and of itself. However, to my knowledge this is the first time NOTA has been taken this seriously at this level and it is undoubtedly down to our evidence submission and growing public support for it. So thank you all – it’s a start! Onwards & Upwards…!

To join the discussion and make a pro-NOTA submission to the committee see here. All media enquiries to stan(at)mailmanstan.co.uk

Below is the email I received form the committee in full, please do take the time to inform them of your own support for NOTA before Friday 9th January and help us bring it one step closer:


Political and Constitutional Reform Committee (House of Commons):

Substantial reforms needed to re-engage the public with politics and elections in the UK

MPs call for political parties to include proposals in their manifestos – such as compulsory voting, online voting and votes for 16-17 year olds – ahead of the 2015 election

Today, Friday 14 November 2014, the Commons Political and Constitutional Reform Committee launches a report and a public consultation on reforms to voting arrangements to re-engage British people with politics and elections.

Launching the report, Graham Allen MP, Chair of the Committee, said:

“Our democracy is facing a crisis if we do not take urgent action to make elections more accessible to the public and convince them that it is worth voting.

“Turnout for the last general election was only 65%—almost 16 million voters chose not to participate—and millions of people are not even registered to vote. This is not an acceptable state of affairs for a modern democracy.

“The fact that almost 85% of people turned out for the recent referendum on Scottish independence shows that people will turn out if they care about an issue and believe they can make a difference. This lesson needs to be learnt and applied to all other elections.

“Our report on voter engagement considers some radical changes, like compulsory voting, online voting, and extending the franchise to younger people, because we believe a serious problem needs serious answers. We hope our report shows that Parliament is waking up to this issue by calling for radical change.

“We are asking the public to seriously consider the proposals we put forward in our report and give us their views on what would work – what would engage you? What would make it easier for you to get out and vote? And care about voting?  – so we can put forward the best recommendations in a final report ahead of the 2015 general election.”

The proposals the Committee is inviting views on include:

·         Making voting compulsory in some elections, with an option to “abstain” or vote for “none of the above

·         Extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds

·         Modernising electoral administration by considering options such as automatic registration, letting people register on the day of an election, online voting and many more

·         Reforming party structures to better engage with the public

·         Looking at how the media and politics can interact for the greater good of a healthy democracy

·         Taking forward decentralisation and devolution so the electorate can engage much more in deciding their own affairs

·         Doing more to increase registration for those people under represented on the electoral registers—including young people, British citizens living overseas, commonwealth and EU citizens and members of some Black and Minority Ethnic groups

The Committee plans to produce a final report on voter engagement in the New Year, informed by the responses it receives on the conclusions and recommendations set out in this report.

Contribute to the discussion

The Committee welcomes written submissions on any or all of the conclusions and recommendations set out in its report on pages 82 to 94. The Committee would particularly welcome submissions from organisations that have sought the views of their members.

The deadline for written submissions is Friday 9 January 2014. Submissions can be as short as you wish but it would be helpful if they did not significantly exceed 3,000 words unless this has been cleared in advance with the Committee secretariat. Written responses to the Committee will usually be treated as evidence to the Committee and may be published. If you object to your response being made public, please make this clear when it is submitted.

Written evidence on the Proposals on voter engagement should be submitted online:

http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/political-and-constitutional-reform-committee/inquiries/parliament-2010/proposals-on-voter-engagement/commons-written-submission-form/

If you are considering making a submission please read the following guidelines:

http://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/take-part-in-committee-inquiries/witness/

If you intend to make a submission and require further time, please contact us at pcrc@parliament.uk.

Press requests: Jessica Bridges-Palmer, Committee Media Officer
Email: bridgespalmerj@parliament.uk  Mobile: 07917 488489

All other requests: Political and Constitutional Reform Committee
Tel: 020 7219 0737 Email: pcrc@parliament.uk

FURTHER INFORMATION:

Further details about this inquiry and the terms of reference can be found on the Committee’s website at: Voter engagement in the UK

Committee Membership is as follows:  Mr Graham Allen (Chair) (Nottingham North), Mr Jeremy Browne (Taunton Deane), Mr Christopher Chope (Christchurch), Tracey Crouch (Chatham and Aylesford), Mark Durkan (Foyle), Paul Flynn (Newport West),  Fabian Hamilton (Leeds North East), David Morris (Morecambe and Lunesdale), Robert Neill (Bromley and Chislehurst), Chris Ruane (Vale of Clwyd), Mr Andrew Turner (Isle of Wight)

Follow the Committee on Twitter: @CommonsPolCon

Specific Committee Information: pcrc@parliament.uk
Telephone: 020 7219 6287

Committee Website: http://www.parliament.uk/pcrc

‘NOTA’ banned as party name by Electoral Commission

The group Notavote, also known as The NOTA Party (for background and context see here: https://nota-uk.org/2014/06/11/the-judean-peoples-front-myth/ ) have been told by the Electoral Commission (EC) that they can no longer use NOTA in their party name as the word is prohibited. Not surprisingly, some of them are now crying conspiracy and believing they have rattled the establishment.

But there is no conspiracy. The only reason NOTA was previously allowed in a party name is because the EC obviously hadn’t realised it stood for ‘None of the Above’, a phrase that has been banned in party names for many years. Because of mounting calls for actual NOTA and common use of the abbreviation, the EC have obviously now realised what it stands for and acted accordingly.

And here’s the thing – their reason for not allowing the term NOTA or ‘None of the Above’ in a party name is perfectly valid: it would have people thinking it is already possible to vote NOTA for real at an election when, clearly, it is not.

The party that were trying to get away with this are actively in the business of claiming they have already got a working NOTA option on the ballot paper when they haven’t, seriously undermining our efforts to get one in place and damaging the credibility of our campaign by association. In the past, some of their members have also claimed that they set their group up in 2007 in an attempt to get the jump on us (NOTA UK, est. 2010) – some four years before they actually formed. They have also been infiltrated by far right types vying for power in the past (as was our facebook page temporarily, around the same time, in the interests of transparency).

NOTA UK is, and always will be, 100% non-partisan and a far right / far left free zone, as any campaign for real and lasting democratic reform should be. It is not clear whether Notavote can say the same. NOTA UK will also never be a political party trying to get itself elected. Notavote, in spite of this recent setback, apparently still are that way inclined.

A new political party, by definition, whatever it is called and whatever it claims to stand for, can only ever be another One Of The Above. This should be glaringly obvious to all who understand what NOTA is and why it is so important. The party in question appear to have become obsessed with getting themselves elected by any means possible, using peoples disillusionment and desire for actual NOTA as a vehicle for doing so. Clearly, this poses a problem for those campaigning for actual NOTA.

For this reason, personally, I welcome the EC’s decision and hope that it helps people to distinguish between those campaigning for real and lasting democratic reform in a considered, long term way and those good intentioned people simply muddying the waters and inadvertently making things harder for everyone.

Know your NOTA campaigns and accept no imitations. The real, official campaign for actual NOTA remains here: https://nota-uk.org/

Please direct all media enquries to stan(at)mailmanstan.co.uk