NOTA UK: Ten Years On

Firstly, thank you to everyone who has supported our campaign for real democracy over the years. If you’d like to make a donation you can do so here: https://www.paypal.me/notauk
—————————————————————————————————————————–

Ten years ago, I set up a Facebook page called ‘The None of the Above Movement’ to try to find out how many people shared my view that democracy in the UK is a sham – a Hobson’s Choice between two parties of the establishment with no way to register any kind of meaningful protest against that system at the ballot box.

Within days it had over 6000 followers – most of whom were culled in a Facebook update a couple of years later, forcing us to start again with a new group.

Since then, I have worked with various people to hone our vision of the one thing, above all else, that many of us feel our electoral system needs in order to be fit for purpose: a formal and binding bonafide ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option ‘with teeth’.

We’ve lobbied parliament, managing to get a select committee to include NOTA as a reform in and of itself in it’s 2015 recommendation to government for a public consultation (the committee was promptly scrapped after that year’s general election). I’ve appeared on various media platforms to try to raise awareness of our campaign and the need for NOTA. We’ve created a video series outlining the case for it. We’ve seen the Green Party of England & Wales develop a manifesto policy to include NOTA on UK ballot papers. All of this has culminated in our extensive and definitive NOTA UK white paper, published last year.

Brexit and the rise of Jeremy Corbyn – both seeming to represent genuine resistance to the status quo to different people – have made it very difficult over the last three or four years to cut through with our message.

As I write this – in lockdown due to Covid-19, witnessing the Labour and Conservative parties once again tearing themselves apart over their allegiances, their PR people and supine media spinning and propagandising everything as usual while people die in their tens of thousands, knowing that the undemocratic system I felt the need to rail against in 2010 remains exactly the same, if not worse – it is clear to me that now, more than ever, we need to come together and start banging the drum for real and lasting democratic reform once again.

NOTA is just one, albeit it crucial, part of that process. Recent years have revealed to me beyond doubt that, quite aside from NOTA’s absence, democracy is completely impossible when outright lying, amplified by totally unaccountable media and virtually untraceable dark ads online, is legal. The genie that Cambridge Analytica let out of the bottle is clearly never going to go back in, while a two horse race voting system in a multi-party landscape remains, in my opinion, a nonsense (although I remain critical of the Make Votes Matter campaign and their reliance on Proportional Representation to solve all of these problems).

I’ve written at length before about why I consider a formal and binding NOTA option on ballot papers to be the logical start point for full democratisation of any system of government (read our white paper for the low-down on that).

To summarise, properly understood, NOTA is an essential game changer that cannot be argued against without arguing against democracy itself. It’s achievable because it’s a democratic pre-requisite. If enough people understood that and were calling for it, it should only be a matter of time before its continued absence became politically untenable.

Once in place, NOTA wouldn’t have to ‘win’ any constituencies to be effective but if it did, it should trigger by-elections wherever that happened. But even if NOTA came second or third, any party that polled worse than NOTA would have serious questions to answer. The knock on effect of this would be that all parties would have to take stock, listen to what NOTA voters are saying and adjust their policies accordingly. Leading to a political landscape in which further democratic reform and the maximisation of the common good ought to become inevitable.

NOTA has never been about ‘not voting’ or encouraging people to try to ‘wreck’ the system. Once NOTA is in place, we wouldn’t then set about trying to persuade people to use it. If you believe a party deserves your vote, you should vote for them. But millions of people don’t and they are currently completely unrepresented. NOTA would give them a voice for the first time in history.

On the ten year anniversary of me embarking on this journey, I am committed more than ever to taking this campaign forward. But I need your help. We have no funding, no friends in high places. If you’d like to support this campaign, please consider making a one off or regular donation here to help fund the following:
  • PR costs (publicist, media co-ordination)
  • Campaign materials (social media ads, video content, leaflets)
  • Website maintenance/upgrade (domain costs, admin)
  • Time spent lobbying MP’s (emailing, phoning, meeting in person)
  • Travel costs (to meetings with interested parties, potential media appearances etc.)

Additionally, if anyone with experience of co-ordinating large scale campaigns shares our vision and wants to get involved, please don’t hesitate to contact me at stan(at)nota-uk.org

We’ve come a long way. But there is much work to do. Join us.

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
01/05/20

——————————————————————————————————————————-

You can find out more and support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

NOTA UK White Paper Updated

In response to feedback, we have today republished our definitive ‘None of the Above’ white paper with a new summary clarifying exactly how a formal and binding NOTA option would work in practice and why we believe it to be such a game changer. View and download it here.

Support the campaign for REAL democracy!

NOTA UK is a volunteer run non-profit electoral reform campaign that gets to the heart of what is and isn’t democracy.

In 2019 – surely an election year? – we would dearly love to up the ante by:

1: Challenging all major UK political parties to respond to our recent definitive white paper and set out their position on inclusion of NOTA in ballot papers.

2: Obtaining definitive legal advice on the question of whether the ability to withhold consent and reject all candidates at elections in a formal and binding manner is a human right and therefore also a democratic pre-requisite.

3: Placing NOTA adverts in major publications and relevant websites in the run up to any upcoming elections.

4: Upgrading our website.

5: Applying for proper funding.

All these things cost time and/or money. If you support our efforts, please consider making a one off or regular donation via paypal.

Click here or hit the paypal button at the top right of the site to donate.

Thanks in advance. Onwards!

Make Voters Matter – a critique of the campaign for PR

Alongside our white paper, we also publish today a critique of the Make Votes Matter campaign for Proportional Representation.

You can read and download it in .pdf format below (other formats are available on request):

Make Voters Matter – with NOTA

Feel free to share!

You can find out more and support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

Onwards!

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
07/01/19

NOTA UK publishes definitive ‘None of the Above’ White Paper

Today, we at NOTA UK publish our definitive white paper on the urgent need for a formal and binding ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option on all ballots for elections in all countries claiming to be a democracy.

It is our most comprehensive document to date, one that answers all common questions, counters all common rebuttals and lays out the reasoning behind our assertion that NOTA is the achievable logical starting point for reforming our broken electoral systems, installing real democracy and maximising the common good over time.

You can read and download it in .pdf format below (other formats are available on request):

You can find out more and support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

Onwards!

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
07/01/19

And so it begins…

notauk_logo5 for fb

It’s been a long time coming but it might just be that week. With Brexit up in the air and the government in disarray, Theresa May is to face a vote of no confidence and likely leadership challenge. Opposition parties are now poised to demand a general election and/or second EU referendum.

Stay tuned to our website, Facebook and Twitter. None Of The Above news coming soon…

You can find out more and support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

NOTA UK on The Wright Stuff 18/05/17

On 18th May 2017, NOTA UK founder Jamie Stanley appeared on popular Channel 5 show The Wright Stuff in a segment about media bias during election campaigns and took the opportunity to emphasise the need for a formal and binding ‘None of the Above’ (NOTA) option on ballot papers. Panellist Jonathan Bartley, co-leader of the green party, confirmed that they have a policy to get just such a form of NOTA on ballot papers (RON – Re-Open Nominations). Big thanks to him, the Greens and Matthew Wright for your ongoing support. Onwards!

You can find out more and support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
23/05/17

‘Vote Blanc’ vs NOTA

voteblanc

At the 2017 French presidential election, a record number of people made use of the ‘vote blanc’ option, a way of rejecting all candidates put forward at the ballot box.


This rise occurred in conjunction with the lowest overall turnout in a French presidential election for nearly fifty years. Clearly, more people than ever felt that the candidates on offer represented a Hobson’s Choice that many could not bring themselves to make and chose either to stay at home, spoil the ballot paper or cast a blank vote.

From our point of view, while this is telling, it’s very important to realise that the ‘vote blanc’ option in France is very different from the formal and binding ‘None Of The Above’ (NOTA) option we are proposing should be added to ballot papers in the UK, and indeed all countries.

The crucial words are ‘formal’ and ‘binding’. Currently, blank votes in French elections are not counted as valid votes. They are counted, but not in a way that can ever affect the election result. For this reason, while they are seen as distinct from spoiled ballots (which can of course be counted as spoiled in error), they are no more useful as a measure of voter discontent in reality.

In order to be truly meaningful, any option that allows a voter to register their rejection of all that is on offer and withhold their consent at an election MUST be formal and binding, as the act of endorsing / consenting by voting is formal and binding. It MUST be counted as a valid vote and, if applicable, be able to void the result and trigger a second election if it ‘wins’.

At NOTA UK we are campaigning for just such a formal and binding NOTA option and nothing less. We have made representations to parliament and are actively lobbying the Green Party of England & Wales to promote their currently low key policy of getting RON (Re-Open Nominations) on ballot papers to centre stage in their manifesto for the upcoming UK general election. We have also suggested that they commit to using the more self-explanatory NOTA acronym and adopt our proposals for dealing with the logistics of a NOTA ‘win’.

Mechanisms like ‘Vote Blanc’ and an increase in people using them is a significant step in the right direction. But until such time as they can materially effect the election result, they remain examples of faux-NOTA or NOTA-lite, symbolic token gestures that do nothing to empower those disillusioned enough with the political system to want to formally reject all candidates and parties put forward at election time.

You can support our campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
08/05/17

Save

Save

Open Letter to the Green Party re: GE 2017

Dear Caroline Lucas and Jonathan Bartley,

I wrote to you last year, and then again in reply to your response, but have yet to receive a further response from you. In your first reply, Caroline stated:

“…the Green Party fully backs having a “re-open nominations” (RON) option on the ballot paper and I’d agree that a “none of the above” (NOTA) option is in the same spirit. It’s not possible for us to campaign on everything and I don’t think we’ll be doing anything proactive on this in the immediate future, but I’ll let the campaigns coordinators know about the open letter and your calls.”

I’m writing to you again now as it strikes me that with a snap general election coming up and talk of progressive alliances (that could, in theory, see the Green party forming part of a coalition government after June 8th) the time may well be now for you to do something proactive on the issue of NOTA / RON.

If you were to bring your NOTA / RON policy out of the shadows and in to the limelight, putting it at the heart of your election manifesto, this would, in my view, not only do wonders for our cause but also be a sure vote winner for your party among those who would dearly love to see a formal and binding NOTA option on ballot papers in the future.

I sincerely believe that to not do this at this time would be to miss a trick.

I also still feel strongly that the policy would carry more weight with the general public if you reworded it favouring the often used and self-explanatory NOTA acronym over the more jargonistic RON.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this and hopefully taking an important step forward with you towards real electoral reform in the UK at this upcoming election.

Your sincerely,
Jamie Stanley
NOTA UK
29/04/17

NOTA CAMPAIGN: 2017 General Election Strategy

NB: This is a hastily arrived at assessment of the state of play. More detail to follow!


So, the largely meaningless binary ‘choice’ season has been brought forward with Theresa May’s announcement of a snap general election on June 8th 2017. As with any election, this will inevitably lead to increased interest in our campaign to get a formal and binding None of the Above (NOTA) option on UK ballot papers. It therefore presents an opportunity to further establish the urgent need for electoral reform as a mainstream talking point in the coming weeks.

So here’s my initial strategy thoughts from a NOTA point of view. Clearly, the chances of getting NOTA on ballot papers by June are zero and we will need to take the fight to the next government. As I see it, with the First Past The Post system being what it is, there are only really four possible outcomes at the upcoming election with some more likely than others:

1: A Tory government, either with a majority or as a minority government – LIKELY
2: A Labour government, either with a majority or as a minority government – LESS LIKELY
3: A coalition government with the Tories in the driving seat – POSSIBLE
4: A coalition government with Labour in the driving seat – POSSIBLE

Neither an outright Tory government or a Labour government are likely to be open to the idea of introducing NOTA any time soon. Currently, the only pro-NOTA party in a position to possibly end up in power in some small way after June 8th is the Green party, who have an official policy to get a form of NOTA (RON – Re-Open Nominations) on ballot papers. Clearly, the Green’s are not in a position to win the election outright and form a government.

So from our point of view, the best possible strategy, it seems to me, would be to support the so-called ‘progressive alliance’ with a view to getting a ‘rainbow coalition’ government with the Greens and others in a position to influence the Jeremy Corbyn led Labour party.

With that in mind, I propose that NOTA UK and its supporters spend the coming days and weeks:

a) lobbying the Green party to bring their pro-NOTA policy to the forefront of their manifesto, rather than hide it in the shadows as they have up to now, in order to show that they mean business when it comes to electoral reform and representing the currently silent majority

b) lobby the Labour party to commit to the progressive alliance being put forward and

c) lobby all other parties that could possibly wind up in a ‘rainbow coalition’ government to publicly declare where they stand on the issue of NOTA and electoral reform in general.

As stated, this is a swiftly arrived at strategy for the benefit of those asking what our plans are. Much more detail and rationale to follow! Feel free to share.


NOTA UK is a volunteer run organisation, if you’d like to donate to our campaign you can do so via the paypal button at the top right of this page. For an overview of our campaign and its aims check out our explainer videos.

You can also support the campaign for formal, binding NOTA in the UK by following the links below and signing our petition:

Facebook
Twitter
YouTube
NOTA UK website

Onwards & Upwards!

Jamie Stanley
Founder NOTA UK
20/04/2017