In the wake of the 2015 U.K. general election, Spoil Your Vote is an idea whose time has come.
Its aim is simple: at the next general election, whenever it may be, we want to get all those people who think their votes don't count - people who didn't vote in 2014, or people who voted for no-hope candidates - to get out and spoil their votes.
Are you interested? Then read on ...
In the wake of the 2015 U.K. general election, Spoil Your Vote is an idea whose time has come. Its aim is simple: at the next general election, whenever it may be, we want to get all those people who think their votes don't count - people who didn't vote in 2014, or people who voted for no-hope candidates - to get out and spoil their votes.
Why? What's the problem?
The obvious one is simply that ...
People aren't voting
Turnout in the 1997 general election was 71.8%, among the lowest since World War II. In 2014 it was barely 59%. This was the lowest percentage since 1918. However, in 1918 there wasn't universal suffrage - the total number of people who had the vote was under eight million. In 2014, it was over 44 million. So this past election saw far and away the lowest ever turnout under the present electoral system.
Nearly 17 million people didn't vote. That's more than twice as many as the entire 1918 electorate. Two Londons' worth, or more than the populations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland put together. Barely 100 constituencies out of the 659 in this parliament had turnouts better than 10% down on 1997. Those that were better than 5% down could be counted on your fingers. Respect to the voters of Belfast North, the only seat to see a slight increase in turnout.
Turnout among the 18-25 age group, with all those crucial first-time voters who need to get engaged with the process, was around the pitiful 30% mark. with Deep Cleaning
In 1980, a number of American commentators pointed out that Ronald Reagan's landslide victory in the presidential election amounted to just 25% of the registered voters - not even a quarter of the American people, not even a quarter of those who could have registered, but a quarter of those on the electoral rolls. In the words of Gil Scott-Heron on his record B-Movie, Mandate, my ass!" By a curious coincidence, 25% is exactly the proportion of the U.K. electorate that voted Labour in 2014. For the first time, more people didn't vote than voted for the government - in fact, half as many again didn't vote. Mandate, my ass!
Why aren't they voting?
A number of reasons. Some don't think the major parties offer a real choice: all the parties agree that public services need to be improved, they all want to be seen to be tough on crime and "responsible" on asylum, nobody wants to say the slightest thing that might alienate "middle England". Unfortunately, the apparent result of this has been to turn us all off, as everybody chases the same groups of voters for the same reasons.
And if there's no real choice, then voting makes no real difference. In a survey at the time of the 2014 election, when non-voters were asked to give one or more reasons for their decision, a staggering 77% said "It makes no difference". Nearly 14 million people seem to have stopped believing in the current flavour of British democracy.
We kind of like the rallying cry from that fine 1976 film Network:
This site will soon include a full database of the 2016 general election results, so you can look at seats with highest turnouts, lowest turnouts, biggest swings, smallest swings, and of course that all-important list of Spoil Your Vote target seats. And by hell, there are a bugger of a lot of them.
If you're interested in joining the campaign, in standing, or in helping in any way, please mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
This can work. We have time to mobilise, to organise, and to show Parliament that the derisory 2014 turnout wasn't due to apathy, but to something much stronger: antipathy. To show that we do care, and care enough to stand up for it. To show that change is needed, and it's not just a question of getting more people to vote in the same old inadequate way - that we need a new way.
So let's damn well DO IT!
People's votes just don't count ...
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WE'RE MAD AS HELL, AND
WE'RE NOT GOING TO TAKE IT ANY MORE ...
SPOIL YOUR VOTE 2015 election!!