Recently, the MP for where I live, quit his post after allegations of fiddling expenses.
This has resulted in a by-election, and yesterday, I received my postal ballot papers.
This is the first time since I turned 18 and gained the right to vote, that I’ve considered not voting in any election.
I’m having a fairly deep crisis of conscience, and as of right now, I still don’t know what to do.
There are eleven candidates on my ballot form. Out of these eleven candidates, only one lives in Rotherham. I feel personally that somebody who doesn’t live in Rotherham, and doesn’t experience every day what happens in the daily lives of Rotherham people, cannot truly and properly represent those people in Parliament.
Normally, I’d have just selected the person who lives in Rotherham, and posted my vote, knowing that although Rotherham is a Labour stronghold and my vote would be ignored, at least my opinion would be counted, and expressed in the vote counts at the end of the night. I guess this paragraph makes my political leanings quite clear, but to re-iterate, I have never voted Labour, and will never vote Labour, unless their economic and social policies undergo a massive change.
This time however, the person who lives in Rotherham represents the BNP. If there’s one party that can represent my views less well than somebody who lives fifty miles away, then the BNP is that party. I find their policies and (at least some of their) members offensive, and no matter how strong Labour are, and however ineffectual my vote, I will never let it count for those people.
I’m left with four options, none of which are ideal :
- Do not vote
- Vote for somebody who doesn’t live in the area they claim to represent
- Vote for a party whose policies (and some members) I abhor
- Send in a spoilt ballot paper, writing on it my objections
OK, option four is pretty much the same as option one, but at least I’m sending in my voting slip, so I’m going to count it! 🙂
I strongly believe in democracy, and that people have a responsibility to vote, but I also believe that the parties have a responsibility to put forward a candidate who lives in the area they claim to represent, and experience the daily life of a member of that community.
Labour even intentionally chose to ignore a local candidate, in favour of somebody from a totally different county, with different values, crime rates, transport links etc. If they were the only party other than the BNP to field a local candidate, they would have had my vote, no matter how much I dislike their policies.
So, democracy appears to be broken for me, and for my local area, but I still really want to vote, and show Labour that they don’t have the support of everybody in the town. What I don’t want to do is to suggest that fielding a candidate who might not even be able to locate their constituency on a map is acceptable.
Decisions, decisions. I’ll hopefully make mine this evening, and I also hope to not be tearing up my ballot paper in disgust. I’ll maybe post my decision on this blog – but if I vote, I’m going to exercise my rights and keep my chosen candidate to myself… 🙂
I decided to vote. It was a difficult decision, and a toss up between spoiling the ballot paper with “I will only vote for a non BNP candidate that lives in the Rotherham area” written across the middle, and showing Labour that they do not have my support.
I finally chose to vote properly, because I do want my voice to be heard. I voted not for the BNP candidate who does live in the area, but for somebody who lives in a constituency with a very similar demographic and background to Rotherham. I know they won’t be voted in, but knowing Labour will see my number, amongst others voting against them, makes my vote worthwhile.
I’m off to post the ballot slips this afternoon!
– The Zoo Keeper