In my articles during the election campaign I've not suggested who to vote for, and that's been deliberate. I will tell you who I voted for last time though, and it'll be weird not doing so again this time...
I voted for myself.
Yep, I was able to walk into the voting booth, look at the ballot paper and put a cross next to my own name!
That did feel odd, but it was a good odd, and it will feel very strange having to make a decision for someone else this time, so I though it might be interesting to look at why I've stood, and why I'm not standing this time.
I have written for many years about goal achievement, self improvement, personal development and the like, and a common thread throughout the years has been to put ideas into action, basically to put your money where your mouth is.
In my case, my mouth so my money!
I had an idea about standing to be an Independent MP. It's almost impossible for an Independent MP to get elected, but not totally impossible. The ones that have done it though, have predominantly been an ex MP of a major party, or they have fought on a local issue, a hospital A&E department for example.
Other than that, they are seen as protest vote fodder only, with no real chance of winning. The odds have not stopped me trying things previously though, so I wasn't going to let them stop me this time either!
So, I decided to stand in 2005 and set about finding out how to do it. It costs £500 to stand, which you get back if you win a certain % of the votes cast. I paid the money, and my name was on the ballot! Now it was time to go out and get some votes...
There are around 70,000 potential voters in my constituency, with more than enough non voters to actually win the seat! It was the non voters I had aimed to get to, because the platform I was standing on was a democracy offer so different to the current system, I felt it would appeal to the disengaged, without having to persuade an existing voter to change their mind.
My platform was that for every vote I cast in Parliament, which would mean for new laws, whether to go to war, things like that, my vote would not be how any party told me to vote, which is the case with party politicians. My vote would not be how I wanted to vote either. No, my vote would be how the *constituents* told me to vote, as I would be their representative.
If I wanted to vote 'yes' on an issue, but the constituents told me to vote 'no,' then I'd vote 'no.' It's a pure form of democracy, and in fact it meant that people who normally voted for parties could also vote for me, because if the constituency agreed with their party on issues, that's how their MP, me, would vote.
Often when talking to people, I heard them say they agreed with one party on some things, but another party on others. My platform allowed them to have their say equally on all of them, and on every issue throughout the Parliament.
I remember one of the main party candidates knocking on my door and asking if he could count on my vote. I said "No thanks, I'll be voting for myself!" and did have a little smile as he gave me a quizzical look while retreating down the driveway!
The main problem I had was the shocking level of education about how the political system works, and the general lazy resistance of 'they're all the same,' 'my vote makes no difference,' etc. When I spoke to people one to one, I managed to convince people with those views to vote for me, but when there are 70,000 to get round, plus the entrenched competition of the main parties, to say it's an uphill battle is an understatement!
One example would be the public hustings debate with all the candidates. The day after, in the High Street, a woman approached me and asked if I was Gordon Bryan from the debate. I told her I was indeed, and she told me that I had been really good, had impressed her the previous evening.
"Thanks very much!" I beamed.
"I won't be voting for you though,"
"Oh why not?" I asked, still trying to beam.
" I'm voting for Labour."
"Because I always have."
Then she turned round and walked off.
I didn't win, and I lost that £500 deposit.
I stood again in 2010, hoping that people may have wished they'd voted for me in 2005 , and that they'd have another chance.
I didn't win, and I lost that £500 deposit too. Throw in the money to get mail shots and leaflets produced, and it adds up to a fair old chunk of change!
That's the main reason I'm not standing this time. I've taken action, I put my name and my offer on the ballot paper, I've taken part in the democratic process. Twice. I'll be honest, I felt real pangs of wanting to do it again, and didn't enjoy seeing the deadline for candidates pass.
I'm glad I've done it, the yearning I've felt this time does make me think there's a strong chance I'll do it again next time, but for this 2015 election I'll have to look elsewhere when it comes to casting my vote!
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