THE BLOG
30/10/2013 10:35 GMT | Updated 29/12/2013 05:12 GMT

Democracy Doesn't Owe You a Party

The recent outburst of nauseating platitudes from Russell Brand has produced a reasonably lively debate over whether he's a prophet or a prick; I tend to err on the side of the latter.

The recent outburst of nauseating platitudes from Russell Brand has produced a reasonably lively debate over whether he's a prophet or a prick; I tend to err on the side of the latter. This unexpected turn of events also started another discussion over voting, with the standard sound bite defence, being circulated around the country's press, that 'No political party represents my views, therefore why should I bother voting?'

This defence is absurd, and smacks of a certain degree of contemptible entitlement. Most damagingly it seems to be a quite persuasive argument to justify political disengagement, which further debases the political system in a grim self-fulfilling prophecy.

Firstly, it is entirely plausible that no political party - or at least no major political party - would represent your views either partially or entirely. White supremacists, Communists, Anarchists, Jedi, and Islamists, are just a few of the groups in the UK that would fit into this category. Now whilst the above is true, to then go on and decide that voting is pointless one would have to genuinely believe that all the major parties in Great Britain, and elsewhere, are the same.

The notion that anyone with even a semblance of knowledge cannot tell the difference between political parties after even trying to find it is beyond belief. Admittedly, the parties all brand themselves in similar ways, and all have similar looking candidates, itself a problem, but fundamentally, political parties do have different policies. Strikingly different in some areas.

Given these differences, it really is impossible to be honestly indifferent between political parties. One must be totally void of all political opinions in order to draw a blank when picking between political parties with distinct policies. One must have some sort of preference.

Now if that preference does not extend far enough for one to bother voting, a relatively costless act for people in most parts of the country (though people in some remote rural areas may indeed incur a genuine cost in time and energy to go and vote) then it is perhaps questionable how far indeed these political views really go.

If you're not voting because you don't agree with everything that any political party says, out of some political temper tantrum that no party corresponds exactly to your personal political views, then quite frankly you lack the sensibility to be listened to. The self-entitled view that you deserve to completely agree with the recipient of your vote is absurd. In Britain we live in a country of 65 million people, the idea that within this state, the dominant political faction would be one that you and everyone else agree with entirely on a broad range on incredibly complex political issues is ridiculous, bordering on fantastical.

Virtually no voters, and probably even a small fraction of party members, totally agree with their chosen political party on every single issue. Imposing such a demand ignores the real logistical challenges that come with a free and democratic society. It also presents a very simple rebuttal; the Democratic process does not owe you a personal tailored political party. It can't.

Now if you feel that the current range of political parties is not representative enough for you, then disengaging with the political system and waiting for an alternative is not exactly commendable or even reasonable behaviour.

Instead, people should join existing political parties and become part of the dialogue over what policies should be adopted. Within political parties they should campaign for the issues they feel passionate about. They should vote for existing parties, to give them a vote base outside the much-hated swing-voters and encourage them to move in the political direction that they approve of, and be part of the discussion. In general, people should start taking responsible for the political class, as it is them who give them their power.

This is not dramatic, revolutionary, or exciting, it's the crux, the quite dull crux, of how our political system works, and it urgently needs more people to involve themselves in it, not less.