Tuesday, March 09, 2010

What is the point of voting in a safe seat?

Graph by Richard Lawson - sample of 2001 General Election results, plotting majority (x axis) against turnout. It shows that the higher the majority, the lower the turnout. More on this topic.

A safe seat is where the majority of the sitting MP is so massive that there is no reasonable chance, short of an electoral landslide, of changing the MP. Voters know this, and the chart above, shows that some voters are aware of this, and do not bother to vote in safe seats.

Politicians express concern at low turnouts, but refuse to address one of the major causes of low turnout.

In a safe seat, it is far better to vote Green than to abstain from the vote, because a high Green vote, although publicly scorned by politicians like Norman Tebbitt, privately causes the parties as a whole to try to "green up" their policies in order to attract the green vote next time.

The Safe Seat Argument should dwell strongly on core Green principles, since this is what the voters will be voting for.

So the Safe Seat Argument should be deployed forcibly by Greens in safe seats. However, it does not apply in marginal seats.

Voters' commitment is ranged in a spectrum from the core vote to undecided and swing voters.
There are core green voters, who believe totally in the principles of green politics and economics, and will always vote green if there is a green candidate. There are swing voters who may or may not vote green, depending on the situation. In marginal seats, it is to be expected that the Green Vote will be squeezed, as more voters will vote tactically to try to block out the less preferred of the two main candidates who are in contention.

In the Marginal Seat the following argument comes into play: "In a marginal seat, the victor will look at the size of the Green vote and will green up his act in order to try to try to attract more of the green vote at the next election. So the Green vote is effective indirectly in greening the MPs thinking".

So in either case, the effect of the green vote is to influence the other parties. Deployment of the Safe Seat Argument will result in a higher green vote across the board, influencing politics as a whole. The green vote in marginal seats, even if squeezed, will cause individual MPs to try harder in the green department.

No comments: