Richard Lawson, your Green Candidate
The opening salvoes of General Election 2010 are in the air.
I have the honour of being the Green Party's Parliamentary candidate for the Weston- super- Mare constituency (Conservative, safe).
2005 General Election results:
John Penrose (Con) ...19,804 (40%)
LibDem ..................... .17,725 (36%)
Lab ...............................9,169 (19%)
Weston is a safe Tory seat. It is a quintessentially Tory constituency, with an ageing population. John Penrose is a decent Tory, a hard working MP, and has hardly flipped his home at all*.
Weston is a foregone conclusion; no contest; the winner of the 2010 election is...John Penrose (Con).
Of course, all parties will claim that it is not a safe seat, Tories because they have to avoid complacency, LibDems because they are second, and Labour because they believe that they can persuade people that 19% pigs can fly.
On the other hand, greens are realists, and I fully accept that John Penrose, not Richard Lawson, will be the next MP for Weston.
The 2010 General Election in Weston will be nothing but a glorified and very expensive opinion poll. There will be no change. Tory votes will elect an MP, and all other votes will be wasted. They will not count towards the make-up of Parliament.
People often believe that in General Elections they are choosing the next Prime Minister.
This is not the case.
Under a proportional representation, this would be so, but under the dysfunctional First Past The Post electoral system, no vote gets beyond the constituency boundary.
So the vote in safe seats is a sham, a travesty, a charade. People are not as stupid as politicians and pressmen believe, and the turnout in safe seats is lower than turnout in marginal seats.
Below is a graph I made of a sample of results from the 2001 General Election. Click on the graph to see it full size.
It clearly shows that the higher the majority, (i.e. the safer the seat), the lower the turnout.
Now politicians are, rightly, very worried about low turnout, because it shows a lack of regard for democracy itself. However, Tories and Labour both turn a blind eye to the facts presented by this graph, because FPTP serves the interests of both the Tory and the Labour parties, giving them more MPs than they would in a more democratic electoral system.
So the General Election in Weston is a sorry pantomime, a pretence.
The temptation to abstain from voting is strong, for any non knee-jerk voter, for anyone who actually gives some thought to things.
Attractive though it is, abstention is a huge mistake, a rejection of one's duty to preserve democracy.
Since only the Tory vote in Weston will get representation in Parliament, all other votes are just a statement of preference.
The Green Vote gives this statement:
- people are not fooled by political spin
- people want a change from the decrepit and corrupt politics of the Westminster parties
- people want economic policies that match the real world, not ancient political prejudices
The Green vote in Weston will not produce an MP, (only the Tory vote will do that), but if people vote Green instead of abstaining, it will send a signal to Westminster that they have to take issues of sustainability, real economics, and fairness seriously.
I am debating on the Weston Mercury Forums site.
*Rather rashly, I promised in the press that I would not use the MP expenses scandal politically on John Penrose.