“It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations.”
So said Russell Brand not too long ago. His argument, a bombastic and charismatic one, was that because politicians are out of touch with the people they’re supposed to represent, you should not endorse them with a vote.
Well, that worked out well.
Last week two thirds of the UK electorate failed to vote. I look forward to the new political system based on a massive redistribution of wealth that Brand hoped would immediately follow.
What’s that? No massive redistribution of wealth? Far right fascists won the European elections in the UK and several of the other cornerstone European nations?
It’s not Ukip’s fault that they, an often incoherent bunch of racists, homophobes, Islamaphobes (and other types of phobe too probably, it’s hard to kept track) are now the face of the United Kingdom in Europe, having roundly thrashed all of the mainstream parties. As has been pointed out by numerous liberal intellectuals who seek solace in statistics, only 10% of the UK actually voted for Ukip to represent them. They aren’t the problem. All they’ve done is exercised their democratic right to vote.
The problem is the 60% of the UK who weren’t motivated to vote for Ukip, but who couldn’t find it in their heart to vote for anyone else either. They abstained. They shrugged. They said they didn’t care who represented them. And now a Far Right party does.
If Nigel Farage, head of Ukip, had tried to concoct a wheeze to prevent centrist and left wing voters from turning out so that his frothing minority of supporters could get him some real power, then in his wildest dreams it would be fronted by uber-cool Russell Brand.
Abstaining from democracy to protest against the people in power is…
Well, look at that sentence again. Some people actually think that the way to evolve a participative democracy is to hide in their bedrooms and hope it changes without them. This, despite the fact that abstaining doesn’t change how they are taxed, or what jobs they can have, or what happens to them when they get sick, or who they’re allowed to live next door to, or how much they pay for food and fuel, and so on. Only voting influences any of that.
To put it more simply, the Disenfranchised have protested by stripping naked, lubing up, laying down in a dark alley, and tying ball gags over their mouths, all beneath a flashing neon sign (probably pink) emblazoned with the words ‘TOO TIRED TO CARE’.
That’s not a protest. Really. It isn’t. That’s just surrender.
If all the parties really were the same, as so many people who can’t take five minutes away from Facebook to read a newspaper often drool, then perhaps this wouldn’t matter. They’re not the same though. I know they look the same sometimes, especially now that they all have the same spin doctors making them wear the same properly approved suits, but they really aren’t. Ed Milliband in a properly approved suit is not the same thing as Nick Clegg in a properly approved suit. David Cameron in a properly approved suit is not the same thing as Vince Cable in a properly approved suit. Nigel Farage in a properly approved suit is not the same thing as Ian Duncan Smith in a properly approved suit.
Stop looking at their fucking suits, and pay attention to what they’re saying.
These people are going to do genuinely different things to you. It might be that you think that they are all going to screw you. Fair enough, that’s a valid opinion that I don’t agree with. But even if you’re right, they’re not going to screw you the same way.
If you’re definitely going to get screwed as you believe, and there’s nothing you can do about it, at least have a say in how badly you’re going to get screwed. How much pain do you want to be in afterwards?
“I’ll take the least pain, please.” If everybody last week had gone out to vote for what they least despise then we wouldn’t now be living with a United Kingdom where paranoia and phobia have been legitimised for the long haul.
There’s a Scottish referendum later this year, and a General Election in 2015. While some of you are stocking up on lube and ball gags, I think I’ll go out and vote for whatever I least despise.
I tried to explain to my daughter what’s been going on in the UK, and what the widespread failure to vote has caused. She summed it up nicely. “Anybody who didn’t vote“, she would like me to tell you, “is the very worst kind of scrofulous fucknugget.”*
And that about sums it up, straight from the mouths of babes.
*She would never say such a thing as this, of course. She’s ten, and has no idea what ‘scrofulous’ means.