I’ve seen this a lot lately, especially on social media. With all the furore about a possible upcoming general or european election people are asking the question ‘Who are you going to vote for?’ Quite often this is done by a poll and, due to the limitations of the software, not all possible parties are represented. It may be just a bit of fun but there are some serious issues that this raises.
As yet, we have no election to consider. We’ve seen no candidates or policies and so how can anyone know yet which way they are going to vote? If people have already decided then what is the point of holding an election?
The quality of the candidate must mean something. If you have already decided on party A and they field a poor candidate then you are going to get a poor MP, assuming that they win. As the successful candidate must represent the whole constituency it must be preferable to choose the best candidate rather then go down a blind party route.
The logical conclusion of this approach would mean that, in those areas with significant party majorities, so-called safe seats, the quality of the candidates will be poorer than if proper consideration was given to the individuals standing.
Choosing who you are going to vote for in advance also means that the power of choice lies with a small number of swing voters. If the majority have made up their minds already then it is the minority who will act as king makers. This can’t be right.
Our first past the post system is poor at electing people who represent the majority of their constituency. It is common for candidates to be elected with less than 50% of the vote, which results in governments that the minority have voted for.
The party system does not help in that it encourages laziness in voters and this has gone a long way, in my opinion to the malaise that is affecting our politics today.
When I am asked who I am going to vote for, I say that I will look at what the candidates have to offer and make my choice at the right time. We should all do the same.