What Russell Brand could have said about voting

Contributed by David Smith. This is his opinion and not necessarily that of STV Action.

On Newsnight on Wednesday 23rd October, following the announcement that Russell Brand would guest edit an issue of the New Statesman, Jeremy Paxman challenged him on why anyone should respect his opinions if he couldn’t be bothered to vote. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3YR4CseY9pk#t=15). Russell claimed that voting was useless but did not explain why. At one level the answer is obvious, governments and opposition front beaches simply do not listen to the people. The question is why not. They have many other pressures:

  • Attracting party funding
  • Coping with corporate led media
  • Lack of access to reliable advice independent of corporate lobbyists – if you have ever worked in the Westminster bubble as I have you will understand what a strange isolated world it is. Ministers and many other MPs come to see the world as the money men see it.
  • The current operation of the money markets

Set against these pressures, votes cast under first past the post system simply don’t count. Would proportional representation (PR) counter this? PR simply means fair shares for parties, and since all three major parties in parliament have been pressured and brainwashed into thinking in much the same way it is almost irrelevant.

So what about Alternative Vote where you vote for people not parties? This was of course defeated by a brilliant and misleading negative campaign on behalf of the powers that be. But it is used in Australia under the name PV (preference voting). Regrettably it does not make that much difference because parties have virtually no incentive to field more than one candidate in each constituency. The answer is preference voting in multi-member constituencies, i.e. STV. In that system parties would at least have an incentive to field more candidates than they expected to get elected. Voters could choose; MPs would have to start listening.

So what Russell Brand could have said is, “Maybe if we had STV there would be some point in voting, but sure as heck THEY would rather risk a revolution rather than allow that.”

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4 Responses to What Russell Brand could have said about voting

  1. Get him on side. Maybe if he supports STV and is happy to speak out about it, it would bring many new people to this campaign.

  2. peter4421 says:

    I completely agree with the general thrust of the article but I would like to field just one “loose ball”.

    For STVAction, PR is NOT simply about getting fair votes for parties and thereby Party Representation, although the results of STV elections almost always achieve that. (See FAQ 1)

    We believe in Personal Representation whereby people can vote by showing their preferences for candidates who share their views on more than just party allegiance- for example whether they are male or female, support grammar schools or not, and whether they wish the UK to stay in Europe.

    Elections by STV in multi-member seats would dramatically increase the small number of “marginal” constituencies to which the parties direct their attention, and create much more interest them. Why is it that opinion polls are often taken just in those marginals, currently about 40? Because they are where the overall results are usually decided.

    STV will reduce the huge number of “safe” seats where one party almost always wins whoever the candidates are, and give voters more voice and reduce the control exercised by the parties. That is what true representative democracy should provide. (Look further at the FAQs)

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