Thursday, May 05, 2005

What I Want To Write On My Ballot Paper

"To whom it may concern:

I am writing in protest at the outdated electoral system we operate in this country. Whilst I believe it is a good thing to have a personal local representative, I believe that the gathering of votes in incredibly "safe" seats is inimical to democracy. Why? Because in the four weeks of campaigning, there will be few who have been as interested in the campaigns as I. Yet there appears to have been no attempt taken to seriously court my vote. I ran into the Green candidate almost by chance; other than that my only contact with parties has been through them going through the motions of leaflet distribution.

My vote doesn't matter. It will take a small miracle for the Lib Dems to be defeated in this constituency, and all parties know it. Their efforts are concentrated on the floating voters in marginal constituencies - the 800,000 lucky people identified by VoterVault. I, on the other hand, am genuinely perplexed at how I should vote with the choices in front of me. For a month my vote has been totally up for grabs, and no party has impressed me in the slightest. They are not bothered about this.

Something needs to change. To make people interested in politics again the parties must effect widespread change. Firstly, they need to raise the level of political debate to a high standard and stop the lying and mud-slinging. Secondly, they need to make fundamental changes to the electoral system. Until each and every vote is worth fighting for, people will not feel they have a stake in voting. The parties have limited resources and concentrate them on where they are most useful. That is not good for democracy, however. So, I am 'wasting' my vote. But I feel disenfranchised because no party speaks for me. Rather than concentrating on dangerous gimmicks like postal voting, parties should take action against the two things that do most to damage the reputation of politicians - their own actions, and the electoral system."