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This House Wouldn't Vote Because They're All Tossers Anyway

06/05/2015 19:02 BST | Updated 06/05/2016 10:59 BST

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Proposition

Leyla Gumusdis

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The Oxford English Dictionary has four definitions for the term "Tosser":

I. One who or that which tosses

II. A term of contempt or abuse for a person

III. A cooking-vessel, a tossing-pan

IV. A penny, a coin of small value

As far as this House is concerned politicians (the "all" referred to in the motion) conform to all four of these definitions. Definitions one and three are fulfilled jointly: as part of the campaigning for this general election (recently declared to be the most important general election since the last one) we have been treated to a number of interviews with politicians taking place in their kitchens -- ideal response from point of view of spin doctors: look! He's just like us! He has a kitchen! (except for Miliband who is a tosser [def. 2] because he has two) -- and I would be astounded if these did not include some sort of omelet tossing. Definition four is fulfilled in the sense that politicians, like small change, are shiny, without real value and keep turning up in the most unexpected places.

However, for the purposes of this debate, it is the second definition which is most applicable. Politicians have racked up a lot of abuse over the course of this election cycle. Nigel Farage was challenged to a duel in Hyde Park by a Polish aristocrat (which led to an amusing press release from UKIP conceding that "Nigel doesn't have a sword"). Ed Miliband had his romantic past dredged up (hard to believe he has one, but still) and was further ridiculed for falling off a stage. David Cameron was humiliated when the Conservative Party's attempt to set up a twitter hashtag to rival #milifandom (oddly popular among preteen girls - am I the only one not seeing the appeal?), the #cameronettes, failed utterly. The Prime Minister was further damaged by admitting that he is indeed related to the Kardashians. Nick Clegg after visiting a hedgehog sanctuary (see what I mean about unexpected places?) and taking a picture with Humpty, a hedgehog with a head injury which means he walks around in circles (you really couldn't make this up), was greeted by a Times headline reading: "A very prickly endangered species... and a hedgehog". Meanwhile a participant in one of Lord Ashcroft's focus groups honed in on Nicola Sturgeon's biggest problem: "I wouldn't trust that Nicola Sturgeon, she's got very thin lips". Finally Natalie Bennet, leader of the Greens, lost her voice after "too many conversations with voters" and The Economist suggested that "some in her party might be grateful for her silence".

Do the politicians deserve this abuse? Absolutely. After all, they're politicians! One of the main conditions for being able to pursue the career they've chosen is to be a tosser.

In the opinion of this House, there is only one contest that merits voting in: the constituents of Hampstead and Kilburn will have a choice between Ronnie Carroll, who appeared in the Eurovision Song Contest and is now deceased but will still appear on the ballot, and Maajid Nawaaz, a former Islamist who has been threatened by Islamic State after videos surfaced of him enjoying a lap-dance. Now there are some tossers worth voting for!

Opposition

Sarah Sheard

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Earlier this week Russell Brand pulled off the latest bizarrity in a surreal election run-up (8 and a half foot monolith, anyone?) by renouncing his previous promotion of no-voting and instead urging his followers to vote Labour. "I know I've been Mr Don't Vote," he admitted, "but what I mean is politics isn't something we can just be involved in once every five years, not just elections. Democracy is something you should be constantly involved in."

I'll admit when I heard the news, I may have muttered something somewhat cynical about his followers' inevitable time-machine jolly back to the voter registration deadline in April. But let's be optimistic here; if I can show you a staunch no-voter who has U-turned, particularly one as irritatingly stubborn as Russell Brand, then I may as well end this op-ed piece here.

When Russell Brand visited the Union in Michaelmas 2013, he spouted endlessly idealistic soundbites about the coming 'revolution'; for someone so set on meaningless rhetoric to sell books and tour tickets to explicitly say that voting is the only realistic way to get the Tories out surely says something about the power of voting.

I wouldn't dispute that the majority of politicians are out-of-touch and abhorrent to the majority of people. But the fact of the matter is that, at the moment, until Russell Brand sounds his celestial conch shell to galvanise the youth into implementing the revolution and establishing the benevolent autocracy of a one-time comedian, parliament makes the decisions. Those politicians make the decisions.

And I'd hope anyone with half a brain would realise that, although there's probably less wiggle-room between a Tory and a Labourite today than some people might like, there are still fundamental differences between the parties; the possibility of an EU referendum and UKIP's weird obsession with phrasing any potential question as 'do you wish to be a free, independent sovereign democracy?' is the most obvious example of that.

At the last count, about 8.6 million, or 15.7% of eligible voters, were not registered to vote. In the 2010 election, the turnout of 18-24 year olds was just 22%. Whilst some will look at those statistics and claim it wouldn't have mattered even if they had voted - in some seats, I would agree. As a Homertonian I technically live in South Cambridgeshire, rather than Cambridge, and am thus condemned to voting in a seat which has been safely Tory since 1997. Damn you, Andrew Lansley.

But to look just beyond Hills Road and see Cambridge, one of the true battleground seats of this election, is a reminder that in some places, every vote counts. In 2010, 10 seats were won or lost by a margin of just 194 votes, with the closest battle for Hampstead and Kilburn being decided by just 42 votes.

Yes, this is probably only the case in a few constituencies, and perhaps it's the fact that I will continue to live on under a Tory MP into the considerable future that is motivating this slightly tearful opinion piece. I would challenge any no-voter, however, not to spout a single opinion on a politician, issue or electoral speculation for the next five years; put literally, if you don't vote, then you do not get a say in parliament, and I, in my MP-esque regality, will not have the patience to listen to you complain about an issue you abstained from making any decisions on.

At least until Russell Brand finally rallies his Youtube minions to spill MPs' blood in the glorious revolution, this is what we're stuck with; we may as well make the most of it.

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