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General election 2015 - John C. Kirk

May. 13th, 2015

01:05 am - General election 2015

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Last week was the general election in the UK, so I voted. I didn't actually expect this to make a difference, because my constituency is a safe seat for the Conservatives; according to the Voter Power Index, it's rated 523rd out of 650. ("In Croydon South, one person does not really have one vote, they have the equivalent of 0.069 votes.") However, I see it as my democratic duty to at least make the attempt.

A couple of months ago (back before Easter), someone rang my doorbell to canvas on behalf of the Labour party. He asked which party I was going to vote for, and I said that I hadn't decided yet: I wanted to do some research, e.g. reading the manifestos. He seemed to be quite baffled by that, and asked me who I'd vote for if the election was the following day. I said that I'd probably vote Green, and he accused me of wasting my vote. The upshot of that conversation was that I went from "undecided" to "definitely not voting Labour". So, here's my advice to political parties: try not to piss off your potential voters!

I assume his logic was that Labour were the only credible threat to the Conservatives, and if I voted Green then I'd be splitting the opposition. However, the Conservatives had an outright majority in my constituency, and that's not a new thing:

YearProportion of votes

So, even if everyone who voted against them had voted Labour, the Conservatives still would have won. However, let's suppose that the Labour guy was correct, and that it could have made a difference. This is exactly the situation that AV (Alternative Vote) was intended to help with! I wrote about that in 2011 (before and after the referendum); unfortunately we didn't get the electoral reform that we needed. Mind you, I'd have more sympathy for Labour if they'd made some effort to change the system while they were in power.

As for my vote, I didn't get around to doing the thorough research that I'd intended. The thing is, I'm not an economist, so I don't have any kind of informed opinion on whether austerity (for example) is a good or bad policy; at best, I can say that lots of my friends disagree with it, and they seem like intelligent people. I suspect that the same thing may apply to other people and parties, e.g. if all your friends are voting Conservative, it may seem like the natural choice for a "floating voter". However, The Guardian reviewed each party's manifesto for cycling policies and the Green party came out top (as you'd expect).

Anyway, I resolved not to vote Conservative after the AV referendum, and I wasn't going to vote Labour after the idiot canvasser. I used to vote LibDem regularly, but they lost my support after they broke their pledge on university tuition fees. So, I did the same thing as the London elections in 2012 and voted Green. It didn't make any practical difference, but at least I showed willing.