Monthly Archives: July 2016

An Open Letter to Caroline Lucas MP

Dear Caroline,

I am writing to you in my capacity as founder of the electoral reform campaign group NOTA UK, campaigning since 2010 for a formal ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option to be added to ballot papers for all future UK elections.

In my view, as much as Proportional Representation (PR) advocates are keen to downplay this, the recent defeat of your bill regarding scrapping First Past The Post (FPTP) in favour of PR shows that we are actually no closer to achieving this than we ever have been. Clearly, this is because it remains the case that the two pain parties will never give up their FPTP advantage as things stand.

In a system that is all about securing a majority of seats, as opposed to a majority of votes, PR is an ideal, not an essential democratic pre-requisite. NOTA, however, is 100% essential in any true democracy, representing as it does the all important ability to formally withhold consent and reject all that is on offer at an election in a formal, binding way.

As such, NOTA would be achievable with enough public understanding of this fact, and with enough people calling for it, because to argue against it is to argue against democracy itself, once both concepts are properly understood.

In my view, the EU referendum result, widely perceived as more of a general protest vote than a coherent rejection of the EU, clearly indicates that there is a demand for a NOTA option on ballot papers and that people would make use of one if they could. The very presence of such a thing would change everything. It wouldn’t even have to attract the most votes and ‘win’ (triggering by-elections) to be effective, although clearly provisions for this eventuality would have to be put in place. Parties would be terrified of coming second to a body of people formally rejecting all that is on offer because it could destroy them. They would therefore have to adapt their policies and candidates accordingly and stand by them fully to attract genuine support. In such a climate, further reforms like PR would be that much more achievable.

Currently PR is nothing but a red herring. The real cause should be getting NOTA on ballot papers before the next general election because it is an achievable game changer. In our view, the sooner PR advocates wake up to this and get on board with NOTA UK’s campaign the better.

As you know, the Green party recently adopted getting NOTA on ballot papers as party policy (although you call it Re-Open Nominations (RON) potentially confusing and muddying the issue – I would push for changing this to the more self-explanatory NOTA), but are not very vocal about it, focussing instead on unwinnable PR. In my humble opinion, this needs to change, urgently.

If the Green Party and all other PR advocates were to get fully behind our NOTA campaign and commit to educating the general public about the need for it, we could get NOTA in place in no time as a government concession to keep the peace. This, as you know, is how all giant leaps forward in politics are achieved, like votes for women and the creation of the welfare state. They were not benevolent gifts bestowed from on high, but necessary concessions to an increasingly aware and vocal public. So could it be with NOTA.

For this reason, I honestly believe that getting NOTA on ballot papers is the next logical step towards universal suffrage, followed closely by PR. But it has to be in that order, otherwise, to be blunt, we are all just pissing in the wind, for the reasons outlined above.

I would be more than happy to meet with you to discuss the matter further and/or act as a consultant to help formulate Green party policy with regard to NOTA. Much more information about our campaign can be found on our website: http://www.nota-uk.org

Feel free to contact me via any of the contact details below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Yours sincerely,

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
23/07/16

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BREXIT: Time for real reform, time for ‘None Of The Above’

brexitAs the dust settles and the ramifications of the UK’s EU referendum start to become clear, one thing is certain: for many Leave voters, it was seen as an opportunity to send a message to the powers that be that they’ve had enough and want change.


Whether or not voting to leave the EU was the right way to send that message is debatable. But sent it was. And the immediate aftermath it has unleashed in Westminster is, without doubt, the most chaotic and unprecedented sequence of events I’ve seen there in my lifetime.

The Prime Minister quit immediately, essentially abdicating his responsibility to act on the will of the people. No-one credible seems even remotely keen to pick up that ball and run with it. Key members of the Leave campaign have headed for the hills. The opposition has gone into meltdown over an internal power struggle when it should be seizing the opportunity to take the lead in resolving the ensuing crisis. The government is in disarray and in the midst of a leadership election, the result of which will see a new Prime Minister that literally nobody outside of the Conservative party will have voted for.

I think its fair to say that all is not well with UK ‘democracy’. As any good disaster capitalist knows (surely an oxymoron), from the ashes of organised chaos, a phoenix of great opportunity is bound to rise. Surely then, the job of the more humane and community minded among us is to make sure it’s ours and not theirs.

Now, more than ever, we need to come together and find viable alternatives to the current way of doing things.

Followers of this blog will already be familiar with the arguments for a total overhaul of our system of government in order to make fully functioning representative democracy a reality. Briefly, a broken system cannot be expected to right itself by simply plugging away at it and hoping for the best. That system must be fixed or replaced to make it fit for purpose.

Not surprisingly, in light of the Brexit vote, the ensuing chaos in Westminster and talk of party splits and pacts, electoral reform is very much back on the agenda. And predictably, once again, the focus is on replacing First Past The Post (FPTP) with Proportional Representation (PR) as a way of making more votes matter. I have written at length elsewhere about why I feel PR is a red herring as things stand.

I fully accept that in the current climate many things are possible. But in order for an early general election to be called and fought using PR, as many are calling for, the incumbent Conservative government would have to actively change the voting system, from one that favours them massively to one that very obviously doesn’t, prior to calling an election.

Why would they do that? It’s just not going to happen.

Once again, the focus is all in the wrong place. None Of The Above remains an essential democratic pre-requisite, and therefore the achievable, game changing, launchpad reform that the UK system of government urgently needs if it is ever to become a truly representative democracy. Those new to our campaign can read a detailed explanation of how and why this is the case here.

You can get involved by signing and sharing our petition and by following/subscribing via these social media links:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

We live in interesting times, certainly. No-one really knows what’s round the corner. But if we keep talking to each other about solutions and come together to implement them, we just might be able to push things forward for the betterment of all of us. Here’s hoping!

Onwards & upwards!

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
05/07/16

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