Russell Brand has popularised the view that voting is futile. His uncompromising assessment has led to heated debates within the political arena – with people queuing up to condemn his ‘anti-democratic’ rhetoric. But is it acceptable for the electorate to express their disillusionment about the political system by including a ‘prefer not to vote’ option?
According to a Daily Mail article, 40% of the electorate are undecided as to which political party they will pledge their allegiance to on May 7th. Is there an underlying reason for this? Many commentators argue that all the political parties have varied and distinctive voices. So how can it be that ten million people still have no clue as to which party they will vote for in less than a week? One opinion could be because of how inaccessible politics is – engulfed with jargon, vague legislation and constant mudslinging– it is understandable that people are confused as to which party deserves their support.
Not to mention U-turns. Political parties have done more U-turns than a lost motorist in London’s rush hour. The Liberal Democrats proposed an abolition of tuition fees, but when they formed a coalition with the Conservatives tuition fees were increased to £9,000. David Cameron promised to cut net migration in the tens of thousands of pounds; a promise that has not been adhered to. Labour promised not to cap child benefit, but Ed Balls later revealed a future Labour government would cap it to 1%. Promise after promise broken.
Therefore, with this in mind, is it unreasonable to dismiss Russell Brand’s view that voting is a waste of time? Surely, a ‘rather not vote’ box, along with a space for comments to explain their decision could be a valid alternative? It may be pointed out that those who do not wish to vote have no obligation to attended the polling station, or they can spoil their ballot paper. But this does not address the reasons as to why they do this – and does not allow for reform.
Russell Brand, told Jeremy Paxman in a Newsnight interview in October of 2013, “it’s not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class, that has been going on for generations." He also stated politicians only serve “the need of corporations.” It is easy to see his point of view. I intend to vote on May 7th – but can sympathise with those who would rather not. For democratic purposes, politicians have to listen to these people and act on their concerns. I believe, the ballot paper should also reflect the disillusionment that some feel. #Election 2015