By the time this blog is online, the UK will be in the midst of a very important day of voting. For the first time in years the current polls show that Labour are currently 41% to the Conservatives 32% while the Lib Dems check their stock of white flags with a whole 9%. The problem with polls is that they are just that: polls. It's a certain amount of people from a certain amount of places and ultimately while it helps boost the nation's notion* of who's currently the least disliked of our current range of unfavourable politicians, it doesn't really mean a lot come voting day. YouGov, from whom the latest polls have been released to the press, gets opinions from 350k internet users who gain points per survey they fill out till they earn enough to get a £50 cheque.
So firstly that excludes any non-internet users but also includes all those people willing to just click boxes as quickly as possible in order to get money. As a broke, self employed man I have been one of those people many a time, willing to state all types of illness, age ranges and product use all for the sake of a £20 M&S voucher so I can eat some fancy crisps. I'm not saying they are a bad thing, but if we all honestly even believe those 350,000 people are all going to turn up and vote in the Local or Mayoral elections were are sadly sorely more full of blind optimism than the PR people in charge of Liberty X's comeback campaign.
The sad fact is that in the last major vote in the UK - the one on voting reform and local elections outside of London back in May 2011 - only 42.2% of UK voters turned up to fulfil their role in our democratic system. I remember the news that day stating that 42.2% was a 'good result' for voting figures. A comment I have since equated in my stand-up with wishing my university had had the same opinion on my degree marks. That's just over a third of the UK. 4.2 people out of 10, which means some peoples' toes might have had a view. However you want to look at it, it's a paltry amount of people that care about how the country is governed. In 2010 for the general elections, a whole 65% took the time out to put a cross in a box, but this is still down over 10% from UK election turnouts in the 90's. Across Europe we're banded with a few Eastern European countries, most of who have only achieved democracy in the last 20 years, and oddly France, who I believe will change their average voting figures by some mass on Friday making Sarkozy less so cozy. Sorry.
I don't want to harp on about the struggle for universal suffrage (and no, I don't mean having to keep reading these blogs) in the UK until 1928, or how lucky we are to have a system that allows all official UK residents bar prisoners and under 18s a vote, but if you're considering not voting in the election this week, have a think about why not. The excuse I often hear is 'oh but I don't want to vote for any of them', and I understand that a lot. It does feel right now as though we do have a choice between a party who's intent on catering for the rich, a party who were have become the opposite of everything they were meant to stand for and a party who...oh no wait, that's it. I'm not sure the Lib Dems qualify as a contender anymore than a horse called 'Soon To Be Glue' who starts the Grand National walking backwards and falling over his own hooves. I too feel a bit like it's voting between a punch in the mouth or a kick in the nuts. But - personal views that we need to get rid of this current Coalition as quickly as possible aside - even if you can't choose which businessman is your favourite, then it's just as important that you still go and vote. Who for? Well either investigate all the other parties as a vote for them may not be tactical but its still not a vote for those who are currently in charge. They do get counted too and nothing sends a message saying you're doing something wrong than the country siding with everyone but you. Or spoil your paper. No, I don't mean give it Ferrero Rocher. I mean write your favourite political message/rude word/drawing of a penis and make sure that vote is well and truly destroyed. Again, they get counted and I love the dream of 62 million Brits all drawing hairy cocks on their ballot papers, before starting a revolution. But hey, maybe that's just me. I am very good at crude doodles.
These may seem like childish tactics to some, but they are only as childish as Cameron's petty ageist jibes at Prime Minister's Questions, instead of ever giving any answers. What you have to remember is however pointless voting might seem to, apathy is far more dangerous. If those in charge really thing the majority of the population cares so little that they can't even walk to their local polling station and write a small 'x' in a box, then they really can get away with whatever they like. So please vote. If nothing else, if everyone goes out and votes, we might beat the French at something again.**
* Yes, it is lovely saying those words together.
** I'm suddenly aware UKIP voters might find this as an incentive. Please note: UKIP voters, if you could actually abstain from voting this week, or in fact for the rest of your lives, that'd be brilliant.
Follow Tiernan Douieb on Twitter: www.twitter.com/TiernanDouieb