April 23rd, 2010

Voting and Civic Duty

It looks like this might be a really influential and important election. As such, I'm certainly going to vote. However, please ignore people who tell you that you have a duty to vote. You don't. You still get to complain, as long as you didn't vote for a party who had already said they would do something.

I have a ranked list of what I would like you to do, if you have a vote in the UK general election. Pick one, the higher up the list, the better.

1) Have been aware of current affairs and politically informed for the past parliament. Have rationally approached policies without prejudice, and rated them. Know what your MP did last parliament. Campaign for the party you feel will be the best, in the place you think you can make the most difference. Vote.

2) Have been aware of current affairs and politically informed for the past parliament. Have rationally approached policies without prejudice, and rated them. Know what your MP did last parliament. Vote.

3) Become informed about politics. At a minimum read the headlines from the manifestos of the three main parties and understand the implications. Watch ALL THREE debates. Vote.

4) Become informed. Stay at home because you can't decide who you prefer and don't like any of them.

5) Don't vote because you are busy, or can't be bothered.

6a) Vote based on how much you like the leader of a party, whether you trust him, or if he has a nice haircut.

6b) Just vote, out of a sense of duty, without taking the trouble to become informed.

7) Vote out of prejudice. Based on how your family has always voted, or what you see as fitting your self image. If you ever say "My family has always been Conservative" or "I could never bring myself to vote Conservative" then you are probably doing this.


I can't decide which way round 6a and 6b should be. On the one hand at least your gut instincts about a leader are SOME information. On the other, that practice might make charismatic but undesirable leaders more electable.

I've decided to move from somewhere between a 4/5, to somewhere between a 2/3. 4/5 is sort of a default position, but I'm hopeful this election can lead to significant reform, so I'm going to go to 2/3.

I suspect most people will be either a 5, or a 6. Frankly, I'm okay with people going with a 5 (although somewhat less so than normally, because I think this will be a fairly important election). I strongly dislike 6.

Please. Watch the debates. Understand what these parties are actually offering. To you, and to the country. Ignore "Oooo, I'm so working class, I have to vote this way", or "Daddy always said this party were best" feelings. Engage Brain. Then Vote. Either that, or don't bother - it's perfectly understandable that the time and effort to vote is not worth the miniscule amount of influence it will have, but please don't be bullied into voting by tyrants who would have the uninformed dilute democracy.