Tag Archives: elections

Why I voted in a safe seat

A little while ago I posited the argument that not voting is a proxy vote for the winner. Now I’m going to suggest that it’s worth voting even in a safe seat where you’re voting against the incumbent.

In Lichfield I’ve voted for Rob Pass, the Green Party candidate. He won’t get anywhere close to winning. He might not even retain his deposit. But voting Green is my way of telling MPs my views. When they see what sounds like will be a big uplift in the green vote it’ll send a message about the kind of politics and policies I and fellow Green voters want.

No, it won’t change a lot but if UKIP has taught us anything it’s that the big parties will respond to a threat to their power. I also believe that lots of people who are thinking of voting Green won’t do if they feel their vote won’t count. That’s a self fulfilling prophecy. Those of us who do help increase the Green vote will show others they won’t be alone next time.

Just voting once every five years is going to do fuck all though. We should vote but also follow up that action with more action to try and get the politics and society we desire. As Andy Bennetts said, organise.

That’s why I’m starting #365daysofpolitics. Every day, starting today, I’m going to so something political (or with a political purpose) to help push towards the kind of society and democracy that I want to see.

I’m going to blog every day what I do. Feel free to join me. Let’s organise and be the change we want to see in the world.

No mandate: PCCs need to go

One of my biggest gripes about UK Parliamentary elections is that successive Governments claim they have a “mandate” to introduce their ideological reforms (whatever the flavour) as if every single vote in their favour is a full and unconditional endorsement of their entire manifesto.

That is, of course, an absurd assertion but the ruling party invariably rolls out the “mandate” claim when challenged over the lack of evidenced need for new policy. It’s one of the many reasons we need a better electoral system for the UK. Instead, we have an elective dictatorship.

Mandate, or lack thereof, is the prime reason why the shambles of Police and Crime Commissioners must be abolished.

Last week’s PCC by-election in the West Midlands further demonstrates that nothing any PCC does has an appropriate mandate from the electorate. Before last week my own county, Staffordshire, had seen the lowest turnout for a PCC election at 11.63% but the West Midlands has now reduced that record to 10.38%.

Only 102,571 electors voted for the successful candidate, David Jamieson, out of an electorate of 1,974,518. That’s a ‘mandate’ of just 5.2%. David Jamieson is now free to make incredibly important decisions about policing throughout the West Midlands based on the support of a tiny proportion of the people who will be affected by those decisions.

Surely no one who supports the principle of policing by consent can possible contend that this pathetic election is in any way good for the people of the West Midlands. Couple that with the fact that PCCs cost more than the previous police authorities and you have an incredible insult to the electorate.

Tomorrow: Dispelling the myth of “unelected and invisible” police authorities.

UK may have no say on EU top job, frontrunner warns

Re: UK may have no say on EU top job, frontrunner warns

European Commission President hopeful Jean-Claude Juncker suggests British people aren’t getting a vote on who becomes President but ignores one fundamental problem: the British people never get a vote and neither do the rest of Europe’s citizens. Ridiculously, this is the first time that the Commission President has been installed by elected members (MEPs). Former Presidents have all been selected by state leaders, a woefully undemocratic process.

But the new system isn’t very democratic either. Parties with MEPs form “super-parties” in the European Parliament and it’s the controlling “super-party” that gets to decide who is the Commission President. In this instance, that’s the European People’s Party

With 274 MEPs out of 766 in the European Parliament belonging to the EPP, it’s quite obvious that the decision on the EC President lies with a group of MEPs who have been voted into their roles by a tiny proportion of the electorate.

Here’s the maths (approximate, based on data from Wikipedia);

  • Electorate: 500 million
  • Turnout: 43.24%
  • Number of people who voted: 216.2 million
  • Percentage of vote won by EPP: 36%
  • Number of votes for EPP: 77.832 million
  • Percentage of electorate who voted for EPP: 15.57%

So, less than a fifth of the electorate voted for the EPP who get to make one of the most important decisions about the governance of the entire European Union. This is clearly not a very democratic system and so Juncker’s claim is baseless. The EPP hold too much power without sufficient mandate from the electorate. If Juncker wants the people to have their voice heard, he should concentrate on making the Commission Presidency a more democratic appointment, perhaps even directly elected by the people themselves.