It’s a kind of esprit d’escalier on a grand scale, but it was only on the day after that farce of an election that one answer occurred to your gouty correspondent.
To say ‘farce’ is to be critical on many levels, not to cry foul or blame just one leader or one Brexit for that matter. Though to hold a general election, during the struggles over one generation-defining, all-party-splitting issue is grossly irresponsible or fiendishly smart, depending which side you’re on.
While the losers wring hands and cast about for whomever else they can blame, some of us see a complex nexus of failures by the liberals, left and right, pounced on gleefully by the press and master-manipulators of the alt-right and profiteers.
As Yeats said, the best lack all focus, while the Tories are psychopathic, lying bastards!
The duping of the electorate, the deprecating of the (frankly poor) opposition leaders, the exploitation, so similar to the last presidential race in the US of two amazingly unpopular candidates. It is, on a large scale, a reflection of the ability of the psychopath to understand while not empathising, to manipulate without remorse, while the genuine friend is discarded and deprecated by the victim. The left seemed to have lost touch with the people who used to vote for it (and those people were constantly told this), despite genuinely wanting a better life for all, while the right could play the understanding saviour while feeling little more than contempt for the oiks whose votes (for now) they need.
And what’s the current response of the good guys? Complain about the cheating, suggest tactical voting, impeach the guy, march in the streets and sign endless fucking petitions! Great. We have two sets of leaders whose policies can be shown to be potential disasters for most of the population of their countries, countries which languish well down the league tables of social mobility, wage disparity, poverty, child poverty, happiness and so on. Keep telling us ordinary folks this, rather than alienating us still further by what can be made to seem like spiteful, sore-loser, whining tactics.. What happened to campaigning and persuasion?
Yeah, no doubt many Labour canvassers tried to do that, but hit a brick wall of Corbyn-hatred, but then perhaps no one found the right techniques. Smugly telling the folks on the doorstep that you have the right policies and that the institutions they so rely on are under threat doesn’t seem to work. I used to call this the Benn Fallacy: the belief that everyone will become a socialist if you only explain it to them patiently.
And the more recent, more dangerous meme is the claim that there’s no point arguing with these morons. ‘Most people are just too stupid’. ‘Studies prove that facts won’t change people’s beliefs’. What seems oddest about that is that the same defeatist voices that bleat these things are also very keen to defend the idea of a ‘fairer’ democracy (ie, see many previous blog entries, the one that might give them the result they prefer). You can’t have it both ways. If people are generally too dumb to be trusted to make reasoned decisions, surely democracy is bollocks.
Current experience shows that it’s how things are presented that affects people most. Facts won’t do the job alone, but need to be presented in the right way. And that way is certainly not arrogant leftsplaining.
But that’s not what this post is about [so why waste all that effort on it at 2 in the morning?! Ed]
A hundred years ago, I think I first read or heard somewhere that in Australia voting is compulsory. I’ve referred to this before, saying that, paradoxically, I wouldn’t mind that. And even though one could simply spoil ones paper, at the time it was also claimed that the Aussie voting paper had a None of the above box. Since then I’ve heard (perhaps true, perhaps not) that not all states provide that box, and also that even compulsion still fails to provide a 100% turnout, some paying the (not too steep) fine and others never being chased up, like folks who don’t pay their TV licence fee here.
Now there is also the (unfashionable) idea that folks who can’t make up their minds or be arsed to go out and vote (about 30% of the electorate here) shouldn’t really be encouraged to do so. A guy at my Uni in 73 ran for president under the name of Aaron Aardvark III, on the basis that the undecided will usually tick the first box. I don’t need a race to the top of the alphabet helping decide which particular bastards are put in charge of my life, ta.
And this time, with the slew of unpopular folks vying for top job, it might have been a good idea, had the voters known they could have expressed their disdain by putting their cross in a box designed to say A plague on both (or all) your houses. I know returning officers do give the number of spoilt papers, but only some distinguish between unclear, blank and abusive message types of spoilage.
But only on Friday did the light bulb come on.
Why not found the NOTA (None of The Above) Party? For only £500 in any constituency, one can have a box on the paper which folks can use to say (though not say exactly why) they don’t want any of these bozos, thank you very much. I want no government at all, others might want a government, but not one chosen from this shower of shite (depending on constituency).
It would be intriguing to see how many responded. Currently spoiled papers run to tens, but if people knew their dissatisfaction would register in some way, would even some of the absentees drag themselves to the nearest polling station?
Now, we wouldn’t be expecting to take any seats, but even a few hundred NOTA votas in a constituency would make it that bit harder for the winner (or loser) to claim to speak for all.
Having said all that, what if it really hits a nerve and we do get an MP or two? And then win the next time round?
Oh dear. Maybe we need to come up with some broad policies in case we do get in? But then wouldn’t there need to be a NETI (Not Even Those Idiots) Party for those who …
File under, good idea — needs more thought.