Every election to office should also be a straight Yes/No referendum on what’s on offer and/or the system itself.
Apparently, the UK is a true democracy. I beg to differ. Here’s some statistics for you:
The population of the UK is around 64.1 million.
Only 72% of the UK population are registered to vote (46.4 million).
Only 66.1% of those registered to vote actually voted in the 2015 UK general election (30.7 million).
That’s 47.9% of the total UK population. Using 2011 figures, somewhere between 18% and 20% of the UK population is under voting age. So we can safely say that somewhere between 32% and 34% of the voting age UK population didn’t register or didn’t vote.
Only 36.9% of the turnout voted Conservative (11.3 million).
That’s 17.6% of the entire UK population, 24.4% of the registered electorate, dropping to around 22% of the voting age population as a whole. So less than 25% of potential voters actually voted for the government that we are now stuck with for the next five years.
“Well, they should’ve voted shouldn’t they, if you don’t vote you can’t complain…” etc. etc.
Just think about that for a second.
Excluding those under voting age, somewhere between 32% and 34% of the population, between 20 and 22 million people, either didn’t register to vote or didn’t bother to vote. Do you really think that many people simply don’t care about something that very obviously affects their lives?!
Statistically speaking, it stands to reason that the majority of these people are not going to be well off. The majority are bound to be people living at the sharp end of UK society and directly suffering the consequences of government by and for millionaires and the corporate and financial sector.
If they thought voting for the lesser of several evils could make a difference to their lives, then they surely would, right? But they don’t. So, evidently, most of them must know – or believe, depending on your point of view – that no amount of voting in a failing, broken system of oligarchy masquerading as democracy is ever going to make any damn difference to their lives. So they have nothing to do with it, they withhold their consent and reject all the candidates and/or the system as a whole the only way they can – by non-participation.
But what if they could formally register that disdain, that withholding of consent, that rejection of all candidates and/or the whole system, in a way that could influence the election result if the majority were to do so.
There is no doubt in my mind that a great many of this significant but currently silent group absolutely would choose to do that if they could. This is why there is currently no formal ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option on UK ballot papers, no formal mechanism to distinguish between apathy and conscious rejection. The powers that be know it would be a game changer.
And that is why we must step up the fight for NOTA as the logical starting point for widespread democratic reform.
In a true democracy, as well as being a way of choosing and legitimising a government, a general election should always also be a straight Yes/No referendum on whether that system is working and has the support of the majority.
NOTA would provide a way to ensure that our elections are just that. If you support a party or candidate or the system in general and vote, then you vote Yes. If you choose NOTA, you vote No. There would be a clear measure of how many want in and are happy with the process as it is and how many want out and demand change.
It’s not a democracy if you can’t do this. We know from the Scottish referendum that when a simple Yes/No question that people actually care about is posed, people get involved. Some 84.5% of the electorate in that case.
Put NOTA on UK ballot papers and give people the option of making any election a Yes/No referendum on the parties and candidates put forward, or the system as a whole, and it would only be matter of time before things changed for the better.
With actual NOTA ‘with teeth’ in place, actual democracy becomes possible. Without it, there’s no reason why it ever would or could.
And THAT is why we don’t have the option already. Time to step up the fight.
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Onwards & Upwards!