Discussion of other UK political parties
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By Abernathy
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#343226
crabcakes_windermere wrote:The other benefit of a proper none of the above category is it helps stops winners claiming a mandate when only voted in by a small percentage of the electorate. At present, even if voter turnout is abysmal people who win frequently claim they now have a mandate to go on and enforce X, Y or Z policy as long as they win the most votes out of the votes cast. Imagine if in an election the none of the above option polled 50% but the winning candidate got only 30% (here I'm assuming that, like spoiled ballot papers they would essentially be ignored for election purposes and their sole purpose would be so a vote could be recorded as having been properly cast even though the voter chose not to vote for any of the candidates available).
So if NOTA votes are treated exactly the same as spoilt papers (which is after all exactly what they are), then what's the point?
The winner may then have the job, but they'd be fully aware they did not have anything like an endorsement to act as they saw fit - and more importantly everyone else would be aware of it too.


Don't really see that being the case. Having no endorsement to act as they see fit seems to be no impediment at all to Cameron and his troupe of cunts.
Anything that weakens politicians' ability to act unless they have genuinely convinced a majority that what they intend to do is right and proper, and reminds them that they work for us and not vice versa, is a good thing.
Well, yes, but I seriously don't think that calling spoilt papers by a different name would have that sort of effect at all.
 
By spoonman
Membership Days Posts
#343437
I remember at student union elections when I was at university there was a choice at the bottom of the voting slip for "reopen nominations".
Not against the idea in principle, especially if people feel that they want to engage in politics but feel frustrated with the systems in place at present. An empty protest vote, but still a protest vote.
By mattomac
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#343456
spoonman wrote:I remember at student union elections when I was at university there was a choice at the bottom of the voting slip for "reopen nominations".
Not against the idea in principle, especially if people feel that they want to engage in politics but feel frustrated with the systems in place at present. An empty protest vote, but still a protest vote.
Re-open Nominations is the annoyance of every Students' Union elections staff member, Unlike SU elections it will probably be the cost more than anything against RON being introduced.
#343458
Abernathy wrote: So if NOTA votes are treated exactly the same as spoilt papers (which is after all exactly what they are), then what's the point?
Treated the same but not recorded as such - that's the crucial difference. Currently a spoiled ballot is a spoiled ballot - be it a deliberate protest (non-)vote, a leaky pen incident, that nice old Mrs. Winston from down the road not realising you can't put people in order and have to pick just 1, a changed choice where the initial choice wasn't erased correctly, a slip posted into the wrong box or whatever. And as such, protest votes are very easily dismissed and ignored as there's no way of knowing whether there was, say out of 100, 1 proper protest and 99 cock-ups or 99 protests and 1 cock-up. This means politicians don't need to pay them much attention (and arguably shouldn't - they don't know the split either, so could very well be wasting their time) so the protest goes unheeded and the candidates can carry on focusing on their core vote and known swing voters as usual, and just make the usual noises about the need to engage more people in the system etc. Even the name - spoiled ballot - is prejudicial. It implies a deliberate act of anarchical behaviour or incompetence, not a genuine statement of an intent and willingness to vote but a sense that none of the candidates have engaged sufficiently with you for you to choose them.

Put it this way, Abers - in a borderline safe Tory seat, you'd at least like to know the Labour vote I assume even if a win is highly unlikely? That way, you can tell whether the party's fortunes are improving and when (and from that extrapolate why), and know whether a concerted push might actually tip the balance. The equivalent of the current system for spoiled ballots would be the winner's vote being tallied and everyone else being lumped together as "Other", with no detailed information released on who came second, third, fourth etc. and no split of the votes. Just a sum total of everyone who isn't the winner. That level of information would be useless, and would discourage anyone from voting because their vote doesn't count for anything at all. It's barely even recorded.

It's obvious a lot of potential voters are disenfranchised with the current system, but for as long as I can remember the stock answer has been "well vote and get involved, because if you don't your opinion doesn't count". i.e. there's not even a way to say "I don't like the options" without still having to pick one of the options because they're the least bad or have your protest fall into the "lunatics and smudgers" bin, thus disenfranchising people even further. This comes from all parties because they know with the status quo there's at least a chance they might pick up another vote. Giving people an option to say "no - not good enough" AND show they genuinely want to be engaged and involved is something that hasn't been done before. It might encourage new voters if they know they can express their disappointment with what's on offer and have this noted, and it might make candidates work harder when there is hard evidence there are willing voters who they haven't connected with yet.

In essence, it's more information for parties and more choice for the electorate for very little extra administration (effectively 1 extra candidate). There's no downside unless you're a politician/party who doesn't want to face the fact you could be doing better.
#343483
But still I see a problem. A NOTA candidate will be expected to make speeches and doorstep and leaflet, to explain why they are dissatisfied with either the rest of the candidates or the system in general. This opens them up to a lot of attack.

If they agree with some policies from a party candidate, they could be lumped together (in the eyes of other candidates or the electorate) with a certain candidate. In a safe Tory seat, expect jibes of "A vote for NOTA is just a vote for Labour" or similar (and vice versa in safe Labour areas). Possibly the NOTA candidate may find themselves attacking every other manifesto - and if they say they're against the system as a whole, that leaves them open to attacks on "Well, if you've a problem with it, why are you taking part?" grounds, a bit like Louise Mensch and coffee-drinking Occupy protesters. Yes, we know it's a stupid argument, but people still listen to it.

And if they do find themselves opposing every other party manifesto, or even cherrypicking the bits they like from here and there, they're open to one final challenge - "If that's what you stand for (or "Why not explain what you do stand for"), why not run as an independent?".
By new puritan
Membership Days Posts
#343485
There's no way our politicians will ever go for a 'none of the above' box on ballot papers (especially with mandatory voting - a lot of people won't appreciate being dragged to the ballot box). There's the potential for massive embarrassment there. Dangling a 'none of the above' option in front of voters is going to prove too tempting for a lot of them. Spoiled ballots are easier to ignore. Proportional representation might be a more effective way of driving turnout up and encouraging positive engagement.

I think the bigger problem is that the mainstream parties are quite oligarchic in the way they operate - members have little say in policymaking (this has generally been less of a concern for Tory members than Labour, of course) and the parties are dominated to a large extent by a self-perpetuating, self-serving elite largely remote from most people's everyday experiences. That kind of machine politics is really hard to shake off once it's become entrenched and it puts a lot of people off getting involved altogether.
#343537
Andy McDandy wrote:But still I see a problem. A NOTA candidate will be expected to make speeches and doorstep and leaflet, to explain why they are dissatisfied with either the rest of the candidates or the system in general. This opens them up to a lot of attack.

If they agree with some policies from a party candidate, they could be lumped together (in the eyes of other candidates or the electorate) with a certain candidate. In a safe Tory seat, expect jibes of "A vote for NOTA is just a vote for Labour" or similar (and vice versa in safe Labour areas). Possibly the NOTA candidate may find themselves attacking every other manifesto - and if they say they're against the system as a whole, that leaves them open to attacks on "Well, if you've a problem with it, why are you taking part?" grounds, a bit like Louise Mensch and coffee-drinking Occupy protesters. Yes, we know it's a stupid argument, but people still listen to it.

And if they do find themselves opposing every other party manifesto, or even cherrypicking the bits they like from here and there, they're open to one final challenge - "If that's what you stand for (or "Why not explain what you do stand for"), why not run as an independent?".
That's if you have candidates (and there's where I disagree with Brand). You don't need candidates. You just need the option.
#343547
Robert Webb has replied to Brand in the New Statesman. The Staggers extracts this:
I read your thing on revolution in these pages with great interest and some concern. My first reaction was to re-join the Labour Party. The Jiffy bag containing the plastic membership card and the Tristram Hunt action figure is, I am assured, in the post. I just wanted to tell you why I did that because I thought you might want to hear from someone who a) really likes your work, b) takes you seriously as a thoughtful person and c) thinks you’re wilfully talking through your arse about something very important.

"when you end a piece about politics with the injunction 'I will never vote and I don’t think you should either', then you’re actively telling a lot of people that engagement with our democracy is a bad idea. That just gives politicians the green light to neglect the concerns of young people because they’ve been relieved of the responsibility of courting their vote.

The last Labour government didn’t do enough and bitterly disappointed many voters. But, at the risk of losing your attention, on the whole they helped. Opening Sure Start centres, introducing and raising the minimum wage, making museums free, guaranteeing nursery places, blah blah blah: nobody is going to write a folk song about this stuff and I’m aware of the basic absurdity of what I’m trying to achieve here, like getting Liberace to give a shit about the Working Tax Credit, but these policies among many others changed the real lives of millions of real people for the better.

This is exactly what the present coalition is in the business of tearing to pieces. They are not interested in helping unlucky people – they want to scapegoat and punish them. You specifically object to George Osborne’s challenge to the EU’s proposed cap on bankers’ bonuses. Labour simply wouldn’t be doing that right now. They are not all the same. 'They’re all the same' is what reactionaries love to hear. It leaves the status quo serenely untroubled, it cedes the floor to the easy answers of Ukip and the Daily Mail. No, if you want to be a nuisance to the people whom you most detest in public life, vote. And vote Labour.
#343548
Listening to a programme On Radio4 Iplayer about Italy in the run up to the First World War. Brand reminds me a bit of this man

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gabriele_D'Annunzio" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
#343550
Not really, D'Annunzio was an elected politician, an activist and a proto-fascist fellow traveller. He used grandiose statements - "Fiume or death!" - "From my bed of pain I salute you!" but also led a nationalist uprising that took the city of Fiume for Italy for a while. He would stand on a balcony whilst the adoring crowds chanted co-ordinated shouts of praise. Mad as a box of frogs, of course, and no lover of voting when direct action could get what he wanted, but for a quite different reason.

Brand advocates not voting and nihilism; D'Annunzio created his own city-state and proposed an alternative to the League of Nations...
 
By Abernathy
Membership Days Membership Days Posts
#343582
In fact, Crabcakes, the returning officer shows all of the spoilt ballot papers to all the candidates at the count, and tells them in each case the precise reason why each ballot paper is being counted as spoilt (it also affords the candidates the chance to claim - often desperately - that some of these papers represent a vote for them). This includes all the accidents and cock-ups of course, but crucially also those where a clear message of rejection has been written on the paper - so the "none of the above" message does actually reach the candidates in elections. I've even seen ballot papers with a spurting cock and balls drawn on them over the years.

So I'm afraid I still cannot see any point at all in a NOTA option in elections.

Robert Webb in The Staggers has it dead on.
By Big Rob
#343589
I don't see any benefit to NOTA either. It gains nothing from the position the UK is in now.

Those who are apathetic to all parties now can register their apathy by not voting.

Be warned though, you may not particularly like any of the parties, however by not voting for the party that you dislike the least, you may allow the least desirable party to gain office.
#343625
[youtube]56ipWM3DWe4[/youtube]
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