Friday, 7 May 2010

The Election

I stayed up until about 4:20am this morning watching the election results come in. It was a bit shit, because when I went to bed the result was still completely uncertain as to whether it'd be a hung party or a Conservative majority. Basically I spent 5 hours watching to not even know the result at the end of it. And even now, with the results in, the final result still is far from clear. It's a hung parliament, but the various coalitions between parties are still completely up in the air, if they even happen at all.

Most of the early headlines revolved not around the election results, because they were still to come in, but the fact that people had been shut out of polling stations at 10pm while still queueing. Personally, I think it's a bit shit that people who genuinely wanted to vote have been denied the right to do so, but at the same time I question how many of those people who missed out on voting only had themselves to blame. Fact is, you had fifteen hours to vote. Pretty much an entire waking day. If you arrive at the polling station at 9pm and have to queue for so long that you don't get in by 10pm, then fair enough. You've given yourself adequate time and still can't vote. But if you only bothered to go ten minutes before the polling station shut, then frankly you've not really got a huge amount of room to complain.

If I buy a train ticket, I've paid money, I'm entitled to a seat on the train, but I get stuck in traffic on my way to the station, or I only get there one minute before the train leaves and end up missing my train stuck behind slow people and queueing to get through the ticket barriers, then I don't really have much right to ring up National Rail and give them an earful on how I missed a train I'd paid for because they didn't wait for me. Polling closes at 10pm, not at a random time in the evening. You have fifteen hours, use them. I'm pretty sure that the number of people who couldn't get to the polling station at some point in the day before 9:45pm is pretty small. I'm a student, I'm fairly familiar with leaving things to the last possible minute, but the fact is that if you really cared about your vote you'd get there with some time to spare.

Probably the most revealing result in the election is that the Lib Dems got nearly a quarter of the votes, but only a tenth of the seats. It's hard not to see why they want a change to the system when it seems to give such a poor representation in the House of Commons of public opinion across the UK. At the time of writing this, the Tories have 35,000 votes per seat, Labour have 33,300 votes and the Lib Dems have a slightly staggering 119,400 votes per seat in comparison. The Tories will complain if Labour and Lib Dem form a "coalition of losers" but the fact is that between them they'd have easily more than 50% of the national votes.

There were two things that really alarmed me about the election. Firstly is the total lack of security over votes. Fact is, I could quite easily have stolen someone else's vote yesterday. You don't need to show ID, or answer any personal questions. Legally, you don't even need to show your face. You hand in a voting card, they assume you are who the card says you are, you vote in that person's name. I could have stolen a shitload of voting cards from the Porters' Lodge and used as many as the memories of the people working in the polling station would have allowed. Sure, individual votes don't count for much, and it'd be pretty hard to properly rig an election this way without people noticing something was up, but I'd like at least some sort of ID system. I've been to collect tickets and things like that and they've asked for ID or the credit card that made the online transaction. I don't see why there isn't a similar thing for the elections.

The other thing is that even though they took no seats, the BNP was still picking up a smattering of votes in each constituency. In total there are seemingly 550,000 people who are either politically brain-dead or racist, and as a result voted for the BNP yesterday. As a percentage it's not huge (though under a public representation system it'd be enough for a few seats), but really, it's pretty hideous that they get any notable number of votes at all. They have more votes than proper parties like the Green Party for crying out loud.

So yeah, things are far from over. Just fingers crossed that the end result isn't going to screw people over for the next four years.


  1. So, what are you doing to *do* about it?

  2. Do about what?

    And what particularly can I do? My democratic rights on a national scale are pretty much exhausted now for another four years. Petitions and other activism are largely a complete waste of time unless you've got a fuckload of people to go with you.

  3. Well, if things are as bad as you say they are, then surely there are a large number of other people who agree with you; so why not get together and do something about it instead of complaining?

  4. You've still not answered my question of what I should do something about. As much as I didn't like it, the lack of ID requirements at polling stations is far from the top of my list of things I think are wrong with the politics in this country. And I don't think I can really start a campaign for people to not vote for the BNP.

    I still think your claim of "do something about it" is rubbish. What am I going to do? Protest? Petition? How often do those things ever actually achieve anything?
    I've got exams and stuff to worry about. I don't have time to waste fooling myself into thinking I might actually be making a real difference. I've signed two petitions in the last week for voting reform anyway.

    There are very few people in this world who hold the power to actually "do something". The vast majority are just naïve enough to think that they're able to do something, but in reality they hold next to no power to do anything.

  5. You are complaining about *something* (otherwise, wtf have you written about up there...)

    Whatever that something is, take action about it, rather than sitting there stewing.

    "I don't thin I can really start a campaign for people to not for the BNP" well, why not? (apart from that such a campaign would probably be counterproductive)

    "Protest? Petition? How often do those things ever actually achieve anything" More often than writing a blog does.

    If you aren't going to do anything about anything, then stop whinging.

  6. Lol, what makes you think I'm writing this to achieve anything anyway? I enjoy writing stuff, people seem to enjoy reading stuff, I have a whole crapload of things on this blog that I've clearly not written to try and make a difference to the world.

    Writing blog posts and whinging isn't necessarily not doing anything either. If it makes people think, if it makes them reconsider their point of view, then it's doing something. You can "do something" by exercising your democratic rights and voting in an election, but if you can convince ten people to vote for a specific party, then you've achieved far more than your single vote would have.

    Not that I'm writing this for that sort of purpose or anything, because that's not why this blog exists, but it still doesn't mean that this blog isn't doing anything. Pen is mightier than the sword and all that.