REFORM: Why voting is the daftest thing we do, and the elite’s most powerful weapon against us.

In Part I of a double-header, The Slog argues that voting in the UK will never make politicians accountable

rottenboroWhere The Slog treads one week, the MSM follows the next. The last Smoke Signals here contained a piece about Merkel’s Big Green Votecatcher. This was  Reuters yesterday:

‘German operators of coal and gas power plants are sounding the alarm: the operation of many power plants is no longer profitable as a result of the green energy transition. Dozens of plants could be closed down, the industry warns. Of approximately 90,000 megawatts of conventional power capacity in Germany, up to 20 percent could be shut down, the newspaper quoted the CEO of a utility. In the worst case scenario, Germany would face blackouts. So far, the Federal Network Agency has received 15 applications to close down power plants, the Süddeutsche Zeitung reports. E.ON, the largest energy company in Germany, has decided to close down eleven power plants in Europe by 2015.  Its competitor RWE announced similar shut down plans.’

This is the problem with political opportunists: they always f**k up the real opportunities. But it does raise a much broader issue: what is to be done with politicians who are obsessed with but three things: votes, power and money? I put the three prongs on their fork in that order because I do think it’s the way things work: if they get the votes, they win the power. When they’ve won the power, they attract the money. The problem for we, the citizens, is that we don’t seem to feature anywhere in this equation other than for half of one day every five years or so.

For that one General Election day, we have all the buggers at our mercy; but despite grumbling 24/7 about corrupt politicians who never do anything sensible, waste money and disguise taxes, we never take power. What we do is confirm their legitimacy.

By far the main reason this happens is the continued existence of blindly traditional tribalism: the Right hates Labour, and would rather vote for a praying mantis than cast their vote that way. (Hence Louise Mensch). The Left increasingly refuses to engage with anyone who doesn’t accept every tenet of pc, cod-Keynesian, feminist social engineering and spending strategy put up by their heroes over the last fifteen years. This of course plays right into the Establishment’s hands: they have a ready and steady supply of robotic voters every time, adding up to approximately 45% of the electorate.

Over the last two years, some grumblers on the Right have spotted that UKip’s jolly jester Nigel Farage is even more right-wing than they are: and thus, as the EU has become yet another issue the Establishment refuses to consider (or even heed) they’ve turned to him in some numbers. This is the best chance we’re ever going to get produce a clear-majority Administration where everyone nasty wins: Murdoch, the Barclay twins, Hunt, Fallon, blokes in grey shoes, Gove and Dick Delingpole.

The total of votes committed at this point is around 60%. The second biggest reason for the survival of self-styled ‘élite’ nonentities is the growing level of abstention by between 40 and 50% of the electorate, depending on how particularly unspeakable the last Government might have been. They’re largely made up of the destitute, the desperate, the druggies, and the dense. But a lot of them now are <30 year olds who aren’t so much beyond help as bored sh*tless by the entire farrago, indeed including Nigel Farago himself. This is because they don’t wear cavalry twill trousers or drink ale in naff pubs.

I used to harbour ambitions about changing this blind faith and braindead apathy: but they sailed out to sea during the 2010 Election, and were sunk without trace by the performance of a Coalition in which so many placed so much hope….just as they’d done with Bliar in 1997. I now believe that something else will have to be used as a catalyst before we can make people see that they do have power, if only they’d wield it.

Increasing numbers of people are turning to thoughts of ropes and lampposts, but any politically interested historian – amateur or professional – knows full well that this will satiate ire, but achieve nothing beyond that. As most of you know, I think a political Party is a waste of time, because (a) a good 70% of the population would ‘get it'; and (b) before long it too will have seats and constituents and make promises and take bribes.

Voting is a necessary evil that has taken power away from us. I realise that sounds dangerously Nazi, but until such time as a meaningful, decent political choice-set is open to us, voting is by far the most powerful weapon the Establishment has – because it obeys apathy, arcane tradition and blind loyalty – rather than sound reasons for exercising one’s democratic rights.

What the Political Class needs to face is more fear between the five-yearly box-ticking ritual. Put another way, they need to be reminded at least once a fortnight that the relationship here is You legislators >> Me Citizen, heap powerful witch doctor >> You work me, paleface >> EU membership unacceptable. (Or whatever the issue is).

I’m perfectly aware of the fact that many techno-jerks are starting to push for constant electronic democracy. This would produce, without doubt, the car of State to be parked in neutral with the engine running 24/7. Politicians who are doing their job do need time to think and the space to lead. The problem isn’t one of needing more plebiscites; the problem is one having pols who neither think nor lead, and don’t do the job we pay them to do. Thus five years ago we got, “Solving the energy problem by going balls-out for nuclear would be controversial and expensive and might backfire. So the answer is millions of unsightly and pointless propellers”. Now we have a major problem…as indeed does little Geli.

I’m thinking along completely different lines. Rather, I’m thinking of a Second Chamber that will replace the Lords: but be driven by the best motives for controlling the elected potato-heads.

More on this anon.

49 thoughts on “REFORM: Why voting is the daftest thing we do, and the elite’s most powerful weapon against us.

  1. if only jw’s stuff was read out in school assemblies – then we’d have some change. – wonder if Gove would be agreeable?

  2. Whatever mechanism is used to form a second chamber, it would soon would have it’s power curtailed by the ruling party. A nice idea, but I cannot see it flying as intended. I would prefer to see MP’s banned from any other income during their tenure and a public electronic attendance register of their attendance in parliament. Also 2 terms and out for 10 years minimum and no revolving door employment for 10 years. I would be happy to have them paid for doing nothing for 10 years, by that time their usefulness to corporations would be diminished.

  3. Re a second chamber. Who would elect them? Not the government of the day, surely? They would only elect their own supporters so the ‘vested interests ‘ would still win. Perhaps if every constituency elected someone with a known record of service in the community, then it might work….however in some areas, there may be more than one community.A knotty problem.

    • The second chamber is a revising chamber, it merely looks at legislation brought before it and comments before returning it to the other house. It could be operated on the same basis as jury duty, with every citizen or subject required to be available for a period of service.

      • Both ideas offer some merit,local industry & knowledge given from people with the experience in that field on currant developments like juries do their job back to their lives
        With all this part time work,part time legislators

  4. Pingback: John Ward – Reform : Why Voting Is The Daftest Thing We Do. And The Elite’s Most Powerful Weapon Against Us – Part 1 – 17 July 2013 | Lucas 2012 Infos

  5. Well said, and quite correct. And another problem with the current democratic system is that we end up controlled by special interest groups (Greens), or those whose vote has been bought (the poor).

    in Turkey, PM Erdogan has bought the vote in the east of the country by giving away 1 million refrigerators, 200kg of coal per family, and 20kg of potatoes per vote. As Erdogan said: “democracy is like a train, you can join it and get off when you like’. Which explains everything you need to know about Eastern democracy. Apparently, the price of a vote for the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt was 5kg of rice, which is why we have just had another revolt there.

    In the West we are no quite so blatant, but Blair’s deliberate inflation of the economy, to make people feel richer, was just the same as Erdogan buying votes with potatoes, or Morsi and his bags of rice. Meanwhile, as John has suggested, society, the economy and the nation can go to hell in a handcart.

    • “In the West we are no quite so blatant…” Oh I don’t know. Didn’t the delightful Blair gang amend the postal voting system in a way that made it simple for tribal bosses in certain English cities to collect an entire neighbourhood’s blank ballot papers and send them back as a block vote on behalf of their extended family and of course the Labour political tribe?

  6. for years, when people have asked me if i vote i tell them i don’t ‘cos it only encourages the bastards. my preferred solution would be for MPs to be drawn each several years by lot from any UK citizen who opted in to the lottery.

  7. ….. another good article John. To get some democracy we need to ban political parties and have everyone elected answer ONLY to their constituents. Some say this would not work but it will providing those elected understand that if they call another election due to an impasse before the five years then none of them can stand again…

  8. Ive often thought a benign dictator might be the answer but they are never around when you need one.Good points ,well madeJW.

    • Never has it been so important to vote,this lot would claim victory & a mandate to govern on their own votes alone,yet the £500 & other cost are to prohibitive for many individuals to stand on,maybe £1000 for party candidates free for individuals

  9. I’ve always said a simple IQ test on all voting forms would be a good start. Fail the test, vote is discarded.

    I’d also add a “one of the above” option as without that, it isn’t a democratic vote.

      • I’d go with none of the above too Chris, with the parties having to submit another set of candidates if none of the above was a significant proportion of the total.
        The ability to recall a sitting MP would be another good addition to the voters powers.
        So “none of the above” will be considered by TPTB
        :)

      • Gerry: I always add my own “none of the above” option when in the booth.

        It may also be embellished with some choice “harsh language”

  10. At a time of Global Cooling (that began around 2002 and is predicted to continue for some time and which was there for all to see across Northern Europe for the past two winters)……… Is not the act of shutting down power stations due to some questionable science from the last century, bordering on utter madness ? I’m still for keeping Didcot A online at least until the UK have voted out of the EU, or it has imploded and left us.

    As for Germany, reliance on Russian gas over its own natural resources and functioning energy generation seems to be mindblowingly stupid.

    Either that or it is a very clever plan by Geli to render Germany uninhabitable in winter months so the populus all have to migrate south and buy up all those empty Spanish Villas, thus saving the need for the next German Govt to have to cough up for a Spanish Bale Out !

  11. There was mass dissatisfaction with mainstream politics after Blairs 1997 victory and volte-face. Do you remember the poster campaigns to get the young interested in voting, and the youth Question Time the BBC started? And then, 9/11, and Blair turned it into an issue that all could have a good march about, and he re-engaged, but didn’t re-empower, the populance with politics.

    I always liked Ken Kesey’s point, that if you march against war, you’re giving the politicians a game that they can understand and play better than you. Just walk away. They need us, more than we need them.

    • Kesey was a wonderful, incurable romantic. They need us more than we need them? I think what they’ve been showing us, and what is possibly the point of this post, is that they absolutely don’t! Walking away is no longer possible, they nobbled that a while back.

  12. “For that one General Election day, we have all the buggers at our mercy..” We really don’t. Voters vote based on their “best” information. The election is only as good as the terms over which it is considered. The level of information held by most voters is not only poor to start with, but deliberately manipulated during a vicious campaign of misinformation propagated by anyone who wants a sniff at power. Even if the information were perfect, the outcome would still be imperfect as its essentially majority rules.

  13. Popular referenda like the ones in Italy, (one of which in 2011 overturned the water provision by greedy, foreign companies to a largely non-profit state owned system) need only 500,000 signatures for the instigation.
    If we had this system we could challenge the policies handed down to us.
    Maybe there could be a ‘policy watch’ website where after the event (or leading up to it) the public could ‘like’ or otherwise a current policy.
    I think all should support on-line petitions that they believe in (such as put up by Avaaz and 38 degrees) as this could be the way forward to a better democracy.

  14. The second biggest reason for the survival of self-styled ‘élite’ nonentities is the growing level of abstention by between 40 and 50% of the electorate, depending on how particularly unspeakable the last Government might have been. They’re largely made up of the destitute, the desperate, the druggies, and the dense.

    Why, you old charmer.

  15. Another great insight from Taleb, which he calls the way of Via Negativa: it’s better – less fragile – to take away than to add.

    Applied to the political sphere, this means having a formal method of recall for sitting members. And to be fair to Douglas Carswell, this is exactly what he proposed in The Plan and has been pushing for since.

    Turkeys and Christmas come to mind yet again, however.

  16. I’m perfectly aware of the fact that many techno-jerks are starting to push for constant electronic democracy. This would produce, without doubt, the car of State to be parked in neutral

    Sounds like a dream. Where do I sign?

    U.S. elections show us that the real problem with electronic democracy is that it is more easily rigged.

  17. Hat-Tip for an excellent article,

    Years ago I spent a fruitless fortnight poring through Hansard looking for a codification of how the parliamentarians gained consent from we plebs. That search was wasted time, I found the word mentioned but not the mechanism. Being a stubborn old coot I then looked to Youtube and Blogsites for wisdom. Still no definitive mechanism. Probably the current wisdom is that as we permit these morally defectives to incorporate and then tax us to poverty, we are consenting to the Government “parliamentary Corporation”, run for profit scroundrels administering the countries’ affairs to the advantage of themselves, and their fellow corporate and banking oiks’ at our expense.

    Effectively consent is implicit on our not adopting Hemp rope and lampost stategies.

    So I decided that these locusts derived “consent” not merely from voting but by registering to vote. It is true that when we register our motor car we become “vehicle keepers” which allows parliament to force us to insure our vehicles, tax our vehicles, insist on mechanical inspections at great cost to obtain a certificate valid as far as accountability is concerned for one day. Well, we register our children too. So I set about checking what this actually meant. I shan’t go into that deeply in this comment, but the implications are not pleasant. It is all deceit. However on the TPUC site a long time ago I found a letter from Torquay Council I think it was (I do have the letter archived somewhere) answering a FOI req. In the letter the council confirmed that social workers would be unable to remove a child from his/her parents if the child was not registered. A clear case of power derived from the act of registering ones child. My lad has fought (believe me it is quite a fight) against registering his two children so that Gov Corp cannot use SS (Shutz staffel or social services-you decide) to steal his kids to feed the putrescent maws of the paedophile machinery in this country.

    I shall stop there. The lesson is clear. I and mine refuse to register to vote. The electoral commision tried threats and coercion including a threat of “Criminal charges: (“criminal”?)

    I sent them an affidavit containing a short list of reasons why I withdrew my “consent” to be governed by these creatures. Which I will renew every five years with additional charges (it is by now almost five years and the list is huge).

    Over at the British Constitution Group Roger Hayes, an ex copper I believe, who has gone to prison for his good fight, is readying to open a “non usorious” good bank. People are beginning to fight. We all must fight for this change. As John has clearly stated. The Commons are gone rogue, and the “Landlords” house has been sabotaged. The speaker has far too much power (financial-part of the Parliament ACT sabotage). The Speaker now is a sort of financial matters dictator, a position engineered to sideline the Landlords who traditionally are more knowledgeable in these matters.

    Good old England.

  18. I find it very,very sad, that the politicians never listen to peaceful protest. Whether you like fox-hunting or not, whether you like the “usual lefty suspects” bleating about the war in Iraq (and although I loathe them, I nevertheless think we were all conned by an utter liar who had decided the whole issue in advance) the two biggest marches of this generation made not the slightest difference to the political decisions.

    Well, TPTB, if you won’t listen to peaceful behaviour, there’s only two alternatives. Either the decent people will simply and completely refuse to support the system in the slightest way (my own hope, as it will be highly amusing to watch), or the lower orders (and the desperate) will kill you; you can abolish the death penalty for treason if you like, but when the time comes, your bodyguard will understand which side of his vest the holes are coming from, and stand aside from the peasants and pitchforks.

  19. an idea:-

    divide our society up into its main ‘compartments’. eg:

    1. hard services – army, police, fire and rescue, mountain rescue etc.
    2. soft services – medical, social services, teaching etc.
    3. industrial – manufacturing, mining etc.
    4. service – shops, county councils, unions etc.
    5. financial – banks, insurance etc.
    6. statistical – qualified statisticians.

    next, allocate a percentage to each ‘compartment’. eg:

    hard services – 20%
    soft services – 20%
    industrial – 20%
    service – 20%
    financial – 10%
    statistics – 10%

    and then in a house of lords with 100 members, 20 would be individuals with PROVABLE abilities in one of the ‘hard services’.
    20 would be individuals with PROVABLE abilities in the ‘soft services’.
    etc.

    at the time of an election, individual people – NOT people with political affiliations – would nominate themselves for election as a ‘lord’ in their chosen ‘compartment’. thus, a nurse who had proven qualifications in nursing as well as experience, could offer him/herself for election to one of the ‘soft services’ seats – but ONLY to a ‘soft services’ seat.

    the voting for each seat would be national, so that everyone would have (in my example) 6 votes, one vote for each ‘compartment’. the people voted in would not represent one area of the country, but the whole country. and although they would be able to vote in the house of lords on all topics, their expertise in their own subject would result in their opinion on that subject carrying great weight.

    because the new ‘lords’ were not representing a geographical area, the fear of the commons that the new ‘lords’ would usurp the common’s power, should not be a problem.

    i realise there are many objections that could be raised to my proposal. but i believe that, as a foundation, it could be developed as an alternative to our present system.

    by the way, i have included ‘statistics’ because, of all the lying, spinning, cheating, misleading etc. statements that politicians make, ones based on the misuse of statistics is the most prevalent. some qualified statisticians that cannot be easily ignored or sacked would be a ray of sunshine.

    • i forgot to say that if, eg. 50 people stood for election as a ‘soft services’ candidate, the 20 with the biggest voting total would fill the 20 vacant seats.

      there are a lot of other bits and pieces i’ve not included as well – but i’m sure you get the idea.

  20. There certainly appears to be an enormous disconnect between politicians (or ‘the system’) and the public. And a very large number no longer even confirm the legitimacy of any politician or party, even every five years (they don’t vote at all).
    My guess would be that the politicians themselves would be even more aware of this problem than you, worry about it (a lot) but for largely structural reasons are completely incapable of responding to the challenge.
    Farage will do well at the next election and given that your aims and objectives as listed on this website are pretty much those of UKIP, I think your own articles might conclude more succinctly and clearly every time you mention UKIP.
    However, the problem to which you refer will remain unaddressed, though at least the normal pattern of UK politics will be broken and the role of the nation state will make a comeback.

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