Does voting only protect the status-quo?

On social media there has been a surge in people posting links urging others to register to vote. Operation Black Vote has also been running a campaign to encourage ethnic minorities to register and vote. The idea is that the vote is a crucial tool in individual empowerment that ensures our voice is heard within the context of democracy.

When we think of democracy and democratic values the right to vote is probably the first thing that springs to mind. Their is an almost unwavering faith in the idea that putting a piece of paper in a ballot box every five years means we live in the ultimate free society.

Anyone who advocates not voting is instantly vilified and we often here people say ‘if you don’t vote you don’t have the right to complain.’ This again reinforces the idea that voting is a powerful tool to bring about change. Not voting is seen as lazy, petulant and ineffective.

Russel Brand, for instance, famously declared ‘I’ve never voted, I never will.’ Brand went on to say “It is not that I am not voting out of apathy. I am not voting out of absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion from the lies, treachery and deceit of the political class that has been going on for generations.” Yet in spite of the fact he followed up with this perfectly reasonable explanation he was set upon from all angles by political commentators and politicians.

Jeremy Paxman also attacked Brand on Newsnight for his refusal to vote. ‘People get power by being voted in’ said Paxman, ‘In a democracy that is how it works’.

Referendum EU Associatieverdrag Oekraïne

The above graphic gives you a rough idea about the finances involved in winning an election. The Conservatives spent the most (double Labour) and won. How could a normal person on the street ever compete? They can’t. This idea of trying to change the system through the political institutions that already exist is nothing short of fantasy.

Labour and the Conservatives have shared power in the UK since 1922, that’s almost 100 years where two parties have ruled exclusively. To a large extent this is because of their financial muscle, which has only increased as a result of their longevity. Such a consolidation of power between the two major parties is hardly indicative of a thriving democracy.

Lees verder op Consented

Leaked: what David Cameron really told Van Rompuy and the EU leaders last week

It’s well known that David Cameron voted against Jean-Claude Juncker and tried to persuade his EU colleagues to do the same.

Thanks to today’s Mail on Sunday, we know exactly how forceful the Prime Minister was in warning and rebuking his fellow leaders. According to leaked reports, an angry Mr Cameron threw Herman Van Rompuy, outgoing EU chief, out of Downing Street following an argument over Juncker:

‘If it is to be Juncker, I insist on a formal vote,’ said Cameron

Mr Van Rompuy blinked: ‘I will decide how the vote is conducted.’

Mr Cameron: ‘You must guarantee there will be a proper vote.’

Mr Van Rompuy: ‘I have said I will decide that.’

Mr Cameron’s face flushed with frustration: ‘I don’t want you saying “anyone who agrees with David raise your hands?” after I have spoken. I want a vote, and the names recorded.’

Still, Mr Van Rompuy sat on the fence.

Mr Cameron finally snapped: ‘If you won’t give me that assurance, there is no point in continuing this meeting.’

Mr Van Rompuy glanced at his chief of staff, sitting next to him, then across to Mr Cameron, and finally at the floor.

The Prime Minister’s later exchange with his fellow EU leaders was no more cordial. Cameron warned they were making a grave mistake by backing Juncker, which would bring the EU into disrepute:

‘Some people are bringing the EU into disrepute by saying one thing in public and another in private. Let me tell you bluntly, you will regret this. Britain has a problem with Mr Juncker because of his federalist views. He does not mean anything to people in Britain. They don’t know him. How could they? He has never campaigned there.’

‘This time it is our problem. But next time, it will be you. Anyone round this table who has a strong objection to an EU President will be trapped. By giving away the power of leaders to defend their national interests you, too, will be powerless to act.’

Lees verder op The Spectator

Weinig verschil tussen VVD en D66 in EU

De VVD en D66 stemmen in het Europees Parlement vrijwel altijd precies hetzelfde.

Uit onderzoek van VoteWatch in opdracht van de NOS blijkt dat ze in ruim 92 procent van de gevallen hetzelfde stemmen. VoteWatch analyseerde bijna 2000 stemmingen van de afgelopen vijf jaar in het Europarlement.

De overeenkomst bij D66 en de VVD is veel sterker dan bij de linkse partijen in het Europarlement. De PvdA stemt in 78 procent van de gevallen hetzelfde als GroenLinks en in ruim de helft van de stemmingen hetzelfde als de SP (57 procent). GroenLinks en de SP stemmen twee van de drie keren hetzelfde (67 procent).

De sterke gelijkenis in stemgedrag tussen D66 en VVD is opvallend, omdat ze behoorlijk verschillende campagnes voeren. D66 is duidelijk pro-Europa: de titel van het D66-verkiezingsprogramma is Sterk Nederland. Sterk Europa.
De VVD daarentegen geeft in zijn campagne de indruk de invloed van Europa te willen beperken: Europa waar nodig, is de verkiezingsleus van de partij. Eerder nam VVD-leider Rutte nog duidelijk afstand van D66, dat volgens hem de deur naar Europa veel te ver openzet.

Lees verder op de NOS