Russell Brand is adamant that people should abstain from the vote. The people I follow on twitter (a fairly diverse bunch, I’d like to think) are equally as adamant that he’s an idiot.
I’ve been conflicted about Russell Brand the activist, because in my head I agree with my twitter feed but in my heart (my heart! LOL) something just won’t let me dismiss Russell outright. None of the political parties represent me – not even the Greens – and I’m not inclined to vote for any of them when the election rolls around next month, but not voting, ie. not even turning up to the polling station, is not a valid form of protest because then my disapproval isn’t registered at all.
I’m a forthright person and I like to make my opinions known, so actually, not voting isn’t really an option for me just on principle. But I also cannot impress upon you how deeply and fervently apathetic I am towards every single MP and political party canvassing for my vote right now. Last night I looked into the most effective way to spoil a ballot, so that there can be no mistake that the ballot is indeed purposefully spoiled, and what will happen when, as I intend, I vote for “none of the above” and in small print add a vote for North West.
There is no true way to spoil a ballot. There is just no guarantee it wouldn’t be filed as “spoiled in error” or “voter’s intention uncertain”. Even if I wiped my arse with it and then arranged the fecal matter into words spelling out “NOT ONE OF THESE CUNTS DESERVES MY VOTE”, there’s no official filing of that vote as a protest vote. It is filed as a rejected vote, which is the equivalent of taking my discontent with the power system of this country out into the street and doing a massive runny shit all over it in front of all my family and friends, while Sam Smith sings right into my face about how much the government don’t care how bollocks I think they are. I am incensed.
The problem with elections is that, everyone talks big, like a chef told by a customer that a meal is unsatisfactory. “Don’t worry,” the chef says. “I’m gonna remake this meal for you and it’s gonna be the best meal you’ve ever tasted and I’m gonna use all these new ingredients, and cook it on the finest oven you’ve ever seen and serve it to you between the tight buttcheeks of a greek Adonis. Your whole world will change.” The customer thinks “GREAT” and gives the chef permission to go into the kitchen, where the chef pushes the food around the plate for five years, reheats it in the microwave and plonks it back on the table without even a garnish. In fact, he’s had a bite out of the steak.
And the problem with not having a NOTA vote is that when the customer asks for a new chef, not any that work for the restaurant please, someone else entirely, the manager says there isn’t another chef, the customer has to pick from their roster, and if the customer doesn’t pick from the roster, they can just leave the restaurant and starve. Forever. Because there are also no other restaurants.
To that end, I don’t understand why Russell Brand is telling people not to vote at all, when he could be using his influence to get young people and the disenfranchised behind a None Of The Above campaign instead. How can there possibly be democracy – real, actual democracy – without recognition of a NOTA vote and clear, impactful consequences should the majority of the population decide no electoral candidate should run the country. Clear, impactful consequences such as: implementing a temporary government (perhaps the highest polling party keep things ticking over for 6 months), changing the voting system to be more representative and running the election over again with new party leaders and new policies.
I’m annoyed that I didn’t know about this before. So many people say “just ruin your ballot that’s a much more effective protest than not showing up at all!” and I’ve always taken it for granted as true. But how is it a more effective protest if it is dismissed? The outcome is the same whether I show up to spoil my ballot or stay in bed and watch Bob’s Burgers on Netflix. This is not democracy by any shade.
Over the course of my researching I discovered there was a petition once (of course there was) to make Russell Brand the face of the NOTA vote movement and I think it should probably be reinstated in time for the next election. There doesn’t seem to be one cohesive NOTA “union” or whatever (there’s like 4 different websites and so many more petitions) so he could definitely start a new one which I would support with bells on. I don’t want to vote ~tactically and I don’t want to abstain. I want to make an actual meaningful difference with my vote and I think Russell Brand and all the people who believe in his “don’t vote at all ever” schtick, do too.
As for this year, I was going to do a write in (for North West) because I’m actually out of the country on polling day, but I won’t fucking bother now. Fuck the system.