An open letter to Michael Meacher, MP

Dear Michael,

I emailed a few weeks back but have not heard from you. I am the founder of NOTA UK (est. 2010), an organisation campaigning for an official None of the Above (NOTA) option to be added to UK ballot papers for all future elections. We met briefly at the first Occupy Democracy camp in parliament square a couple of months ago. You told me that you fully support our campaign and would help us in any way you could.

With that in mind, you may or may not be aware that the parliamentary Political and Constitutional Reform Committee’s public consultation on ‘voter engagement’ is currently under way and ends on 9th January 2015. NOTA UK submitted a written evidence submission to the committee in March of this year making the solid arguments for NOTA. It was accepted into the public record and can be viewed here: http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/WrittenEvidence.svc/EvidenceHtml/7985

As a result, the proposals the committee is now inviting the public to comment on includes the possible inclusion of NOTA on ballot papers in 2015. This was initially only in the context of possibly introducing compulsory voting also. We felt this was a cop out and lobbied hard for NOTA to be considered as a reform in and of itself. As a result, the committee have now also invited the public to take part in a survey that includes the direct question: “Should “None of the Above” be an option on the ballot paper?” The survey can be taken here: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/voter-reform

This is the first time to our knowledge that NOTA has been taken this seriously at this level and feel sure this is largely due to our representations, as well as growing public understanding and support for a way to meaningfully withhold consent at elections.

In light of this, I was wondering if you might possibly be willing to make a representation to the committee in favour of NOTA’s inclusion as an electoral reform in and of itself, regardless of whether voting is made compulsory or not. We are of course encouraging all of our supporters to do this as well. Here is a link to our suggested text for them to include: https://nota-uk.org/2014/11/14/template-text-for-formally-registering-your-support-for-nota/

We also have a four part educational video series in production that we hope will go a long way to getting the key NOTA points across, the first two of which can be found here: https://nota-uk.org/nota-video-series/

One final point I have to make, in the interests of clarity, is that NOTA UK is not to be confused with various NOTA inspired splinter groups that have sprung up in recent times. They are all well meaning but ultimately problematic to us as they appear to believe, and have on occasion been actively telling people, that they can get NOTA on the ballot paper simply by standing candidates on a NOTA platform. We feel strongly that this does our campaign no favours at all as it is a clear contradiction in terms. I understand one of these groups has since been de-registered and had their party name banned so as to not mislead voters.

I mention this as these unofficial offshoots appear to have no qualms about presenting themselves as our official NOTA campaign, despite having no plan or proposals to speak of besides standing candidates on a supposedly NOTA platform. Consequently, we are often confused with them, particularly by media types looking to make contact, who more often than not lose interest once they come up against the inherent contradictions of their approach. For this reason, any way in which you could help us to amplify NOTA UK’s voice and make the distinction between us, the official, thought through campaign for actual NOTA and the various well intentioned parties muddying the waters, could go a long way to helping us achieve our shared aim.

I have always believed that with enough support from both inside and outside the house we could eventually make NOTA a reality. So any help and support you could offer our campaign would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time, feel free to ask me any questions or share any thoughts you may have on this important issue. I hope to hear from you soon.

Yours sincerely,
Jamie Stanley
c/o NOTA UK

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