This week, Libertarianz leader Dr Richard McGrath has been watching the demise of British politics.
Watching the machinations of UK politics is often instructive, as they so often pre-empt events here. The weekend’s local body election result is a case in point, in which the Conservative Party lost hundreds of seat and ended up eight "percentage points" behind Labour. Their Liberal Democrat coalition partners also lost a lot of ground, and there is now serious doubt whether they should still be regarded as a major political party.
There have been already been calls after this disaster for Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg to stand down—and Tory leader David Cameron will be wondering what he can do to avoid a rout at the next general election.
It was heartening too to see the still youthful UK Independence Party (UKIP) attract 14% of the vote in the constituencies it contested. Its leader, Nigel Farage, is a charismatic, intelligent man whose speechesin the European Parliament are always entertaining, and in national polling, they recently overtook the Lib Dems as Britain's third party.That a party calling itself "a libertarian, non-racist [political] party seeking Britain's withdrawal from the European Union" can attract support like this without either the money or profile of the other parties is highly encouraging.
But the most stunning statistic from the UK’s local elections was the overall percentage turnout of voters: a miserable thirty-two percent.
Yep: just sixty eight percent of voters–more than two-thirds of the electorate—refused to dignify the political process or the pygmies on offer with their participation.
This is a real milestone. To dismiss it as apathy or laziness, as many have, is nothing less than arrogance and contempt for the intelligence of voters. There are plenty of opportunities to cast early votes at an election, but when voters decide to become non-voters because the parties represented are seen as undeserving of sanction, why bother?
It is now apparent (as if it wasn't previously) that the UK’s change of government in 2010 was due to rejection of ghastly Gorgon Brown rather than any identification with out-of-touch upper class twat David Cameron. Now that the British public are fully aware of Cameron's betrayal of conservative principles, many of them have abandoned the Tories and thrown their support behind UKIP.
And with so many parties betraying what they claim to stand for, many of them have abandoned voting altogether as a waste of time. And who can blame them?
Typical of the ignorance and arrogance of the Conservative Party is the suggestion by its chairman, the egregious Baroness Warsi, that UKIP have picked up the votes of former BNP voters. In fact, you could hardly find two political parties more diametrically opposed in outlook and policy. The BNP are a bunch of socialist xenophobic racists (though, commendably, in 2009 their leader described Islam as a cancer); the UKIP are a team of non-racist libertarian individualists who want Britain to exit the European Soviet Union. Warsi's appalling ignorance is a symptom of the malaise which has has crippled the British Conservative Party and will hopefully destroy it.
There are many lessons from the stay-at-home vote, or should be. For one, some honesty from the research companies conducting political polls is long overdue: The number of people who decline to offer preference for any candidate or political party should be listed, and percentage results for parties and candidates should be adjusted accordingly.
And when 'None of The Above' is the second highest polling option, the makeup of parliament should reflect this. (Wouldn’t any parliament be improved if the chamber was permanently two-thirds empty. Ditto for the press gallery.)
Which sets me to thinking. Nature abhors a vacuum. So perhaps it is time for a 'None of The Above' political party to emerge here, to represent the 27% of New Zealanders completely disenfranchised by the current parliamentary composition...
See you next week!