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Election 2016

February 23, 2016


A friend of mine moved from Dublin to Aberdeen some years ago.  He remarked to me last year that he hadn’t been canvassed since he moved to a (just about) British polity, and he put the blame (?) for this comparatively desolate electioning environment fairly and squarely on the First Past the Post voting system.

Of course, if you live in a marginal UK constituency, you will be canvassed a lot.  If you don’t then you won’t.  Perhaps there’s been insufficient comparative media discussion of the fact that when you have proportional representation – then every constituency is “marginal” and no constituency is “safe”.  For sure, some constituencies are more connected to a political tradition than others – but nobody’s vote is wasted in the same way.

Now some people get tired of being canvassed. I can understand that.  But at least with PR, the canvassing is fairly distributed over the whole country.  Under FPTP, some constituencies are full of people how never get to see a politician their entire lives while others can’t get rid of them.   Surely the burden and the glory of being solicited for  a vote needs to be shared fairly?

There are more serious problems with the entrenched disenfranchisements that FPTP  promotes.   If you’re in government and you’ve long given up on getting any votes from a particular part of the country – you might as well frack there.   If you have some dodgy social theory you’d like to see road-tested but you don’t want to  alienate voters – go and alienate people who were alienated so long ago that they’ve long been subtracted from any political calculations you’ve ever had to make.  Let’s call those people – Scots.

So as the canvassers come around in the last few days of this campaign, I start to thank not so much my stars as the stars of the people I live among, that politicians are still chasing votes here.   Even though they seem to call just as dinner is being put on the table.  Even though they call just as the wee one is being put to bed.  Even though they call just as I’m about to find out who’s being sent home from New Zealand MasterChef.

There’s only one thing worse than being bothered by politicians.  It’s not being bothered by politicians – because politicians are no longer bothered by us.



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