Current Affairs General Election Politics Protest & Rights Movements Voting

Why the best vote to make in the General Election might be to abstain

Politics seem to be on a bit of a spiral ever since the devastating result of the Brexit referendum. Arguably it even extends beyond that as polls were blown out of the water for overwhelming wins for Conservatives (General Election 2015) and Remain (Scottish referendum 2014).

Politics have always been influenced by hate and fear; UKIP won legitimacy with their victory in the European Parliament election (2014) and BNP have often swung votes in their favour by preaching hate towards anyone not fitting their criteria. The rise and success – for a better word – of ISIS has only strengthened this political tool causing the rise of Donald Trump, the destruction of the UK’s relationship with Europe and almost toppled France into a fascist government as well.

Gage Skidmore – Flickr

With all of the catastrophic acts of terrorism in France – Bastille Day in Nice and in Paris 2015 – of all the nations to truly be fearful and fall into a defiant right wing state it would be almost accepted as understandable should France choose that stance. Instead, France who have long been the butt of jokes for their relatively short lived fights in both World Wars, have taught the other Western superpowers a lesson.

Rather than elect a hate-preaching Marine Le Pen who was both anti-immigrant and anti-EU, they chose to vote for obscurity in the form of Independent candidate Emmanuel Macron. For a country dealing with double-digit unemployment and facing constant threats of terrorism, the factors present in all extremist uprisings are there yet France remained firm.

Possibly Le Pen failed due to her constant changing party affiliations in order to appeal to supporters of those who’d already fallen away in the presidential race. Either way, the French remained steadfast and protested the right way.

In the US, they looked to the email scandal as an excuse to vote for the inherently more flawed – both politically and morally – Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. In France, even the scandalous relationship between a former student and his teacher (with an age gap of 24 years!) was unable to stop En Marche as they voted their youngest ever president. Regardless of his membership in one of the country’s least ever popular president’s government, Macron secured an overwhelming 66% of the vote and finally brings some much needed stability to troubled Europe.

PROthierryleclercq – Flickr

What has been most refreshing about this election is the style of protest that has come from it. Too often in times of need people just vote change. Change that is often portrayed by inexperienced politicians speaking only negatively about the current situation without any knowledge of potential methods to improve things i.e Donald Trump who since taking office on January 20th has consistently made amateurish blunders and suspicious decisions (see the recent firing of FBI Director James Comey who is heading the investigation into allegations of Russian ties).

Macron though, who has run for office following a horrific period in France’s recent history has approached it differently. He has tackled everything from a positive light, promising a better future rather than casting angry opinions against those to blame like his opponent Le Pen.

In fact, the only thing I found more optimistic than Macron’s attempts to change political tact was the way in which French citizens cast their vote. Rather than siding with the unknown just because they don’t like the current situation, many of them chose to abstain. Roughly 11.4 million people didn’t cast a vote which is more than the number of those in support of Le Pen. On top of this 3 million chose to vote blank (not casting a vote for anyone in a sign of protest) with a further million voters turning in a destroyed ballet card. In total that accumulates to 15.5 million French citizens, for whatever reason, chose not to vote. Whilst there are undoubtedly some who just simply couldn’t spare the time or effort it’s still an overwhelmingly large number of people choosing to protest.

Take these points across to our upcoming election. I hate politics. I follow it and try to keep myself informed to give me the best chance of voting the correct way and/or understanding the current issues facing this country. I still hate it, in particular I absolutely detest politicians.

Politicians prey on those who don’t take the time or effort to inform themselves or the individuals naive enough to believe the promises due to their position. They don’t believe the sentiments they spew out during election time. Boris Johnson had always been Pro-EU until he saw an opportunity to shoe his way into 10 Downing Street by heading the Leave campaign due to his status with the majority party in Parliament. Similarly, Theresa May has forever stated she was not interested in holding election until polls indicated that the Tories were overwhelming favorites to win the necessary seats in a vote thus further extending her stay in power. My least like-able of all is Jeremy Corbyn. People portray him as this moral rights superhero yet he has no strength in his conviction. There’s not a single thing he can whip his party into agreeing upon. Even worse, he is trying to portray himself as the lone opposition to Theresa May’s Brexit strategy regardless of the fact between the two it was Corbyn who sought economic and international relation struggles.

Chatham House – Flickr

Currently Britain is facing big uncertainty. The beginnings of Brexit and it’s consequences loom large as a shadow on our future; especially economically. We also have the threat of terror with our national threat level currently on severe of which it has been for some time not to mention all the other unrest in areas of the public.

On the political front we have a Labour Party in so much disarray they can’t prevent a party manifesto from leaking whilst senior official Diane Abbott is incapbale of quoting the same figures across more than a few interviews.

Furthermore when we look into their potential promises they appear to be the same commitments to spending without future consideration of consequences that contributed to our recession when they last held power. These promises to completely scrap University fees are a reckless attempt to secure the votes of young people without any feasible explanation as to how they’ll fund this. They are also trying to promote plans to find £6 billion from a 5% income tax raise on the highest earners:

  1. Who are they counting as the high earners?
  2. The last time promises were made to funnel money into the NHS the Leave campaign were found to be fabricating the entire thing.
  3. What happens when the highest earners – businesses and billionaires etc – choose to move their banking accounts to other countries as a result, following the countless businesses that left after the referendum?

As much of an attack this would appear on the shambolic Labour party still in tatters from the previous election, the Tories are showing nothing more encouraging. The current Foreign secretary is a joke of a figurehead who is nothing more than a scheming back stabber whilst every-time Theresa May speaks on the EU to support her individual campaign she worsens our negotiating position for an exit deal thus actually putting the country in a potentially worse position; hardly the actions of a strong and successful politician.

Finally the third largest party in the UK remains as of now the Liberal Democrats whose entire strategy for the general election is to vote for them so the Conservatives don’t dominate the House of Commons. Imagine that. Vote for a party purely because they are an alternative to a political movement you have a greater dislike for.

German Embassy London – Flickr

I have also seen many people using the potential reversing of the legislation to ban fox hunting as a reason to vote one way or the other. This is the very reason the public should not have been entrusted with such a future altering referendum like the EU vote. As cruel as fox hunting is – and I’m not advocating for bringing it back – we should not be voting a certain way purely because of a party’s viewpoint on a particular sport that targets what is considered in some areas as vermin.

I’m currently waiting for the campaigns to take off in order to see what each party’s official manifesto is for the future in order to inform myself and make a decision. Currently I’m getting pins and needles in my bottom from sitting on the fence because I’m so discouraged by the options open to vote for; Theresa May is a default unelected Prime Minister and wont even put herself forward for a TV debate etc.

With this in mind I’d rather not vote for any of them but rather than becoming another statistic of laziness and the negative connotation associated with those who don’t participate in exercising their privilege to vote, if I choose to go this way I’ll take heed from the French and turn in a blank voting card. At least that way the protest is registered and can be seen as a statistic of discontentment rather than disinterested. I wont attempt to convince you change your views on politics because each to their own, but don’t be lazy! Read and inform yourself of the important facts rather than be swayed by social media click bait and rather than be lazy – there’s no excuse now postal vote is an option – follow the French in your methods of protest if you truly don’t like your options. Your voice is only powerful if you ensure it is heard and registered.

Mark Fowler – Flickr








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