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.