Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Frank Skinner should not be discouraging people from voting

I am a big fan of Frank Skinner. He has made me laugh more than most other comedians over the years but in recent times he seems to have taken it upon himself to comment about politics. To give him his due, he was quite impressive on Question Time a few weeks ago but his column in The Times last week was in my opinion misguided.

He called for anyone who is not fully versed in the political issues to not vote by launching a campaign called “If you don't know - don't vote”. I completely disagree with this. Mr Skinner is arguing that most people do not really follow politics and the issues and arguments closely enough to warrant a vote at all.

My view has always been that it is my duty to vote in every single election, national, local, European etc. I was brought up like this and cannot understand the sort of mentality that Frank espouses here. I thought like this long before I ever got directly involved in politics and have always made it my business to understand all the issues before every election.

I appear to be atypical in this respect but is it really such a hardship once every year or two for someone to sit down for an hour or so and read through the party literature and perhaps a few newspaper column comments (preferably across the range of papers) in order to come to a conclusion about who to vote for? Our forefathers and mothers fought and in some cases died for our right to a democratic society, the least we can do is exercise that right by going down to a polling booth and making our choice.

After all, if you don't vote for anybody, you don't really have any right to compain about the result afterwards. Perhaps I could start another campaign along these lines...


Anonymous said...

Totally agree with your post.

Frank Skinner is wrong. Everyone that has the right to vote, should vote.

I've always found his humour selective, in this case I can only think his making another joke!!

Yes he clearly did have some good comments on the BBC TV, but this shows a somewhat immature naivete.

Perhaps if he became PM, he would expect everyone to pass his test to be able to vote!!!

I think 'comedy' is where he should stay.

asquith said...

What stance do you take on spoiled ballots?

I have done it once- when I read the campaign "literature" from Labour, the BNP & the various "independents" & decided not one of them could possibly be called worthy of support in any regard. Even voting for them as the least worst option was more than they deserved.

I thought it was very very slightly better than sitting at home. Yes, I know it didn't achieve anything. But all my councillors are worthless, & their opponents in the race would have been likewise.

So I was in the "know too much to vote" position!

I am a staunch foe of Skinner's approach. It shows utter contempt for the common man & for democracy & the closest parallel I can think of is the anti-political "libertarians" who want to drag down the whole concept of elected representatives rather than, as constructive citizens do, to improve their quality & the effectiveness of what they do.

It is our duty to inform ourselves. As you identify, those who stand idly by when bad things are being done have no right whatsoever to object when the consequences become known.

I never understand when people talk along the lines "I don't care about politics. I care about my job, my income, my kid's schools, etc etc" as if "politics" were something that took place in some sealed vault without connection to ordinary life.

I understand that some things seem irrelevant to people's concerns & sometimes not enough is done to engage them. But I am put in mind of those who simply assume that the working class, in particular, should remain in a state of ignorance & not inform themselves about or involve themselves in the activities of their betters.

Yes, the great autodidacts & improvers of old would turn in their grave to see what contempt people have for their struggles.

Perhaps if we did get up & demand change, by means of established political channels or "single-issue" campaigns or letter-writing or whatever, politicians would be forced to make themselves relevant. Until such a day they won't bother, & why would they?

Mark Thompson said...

Asquith, I would rather someone spoiled their ballot paper than didn't bother to even go down to the polling station but I have still always felt that it is my duty to vote for someone. Even if in the past it had ended up being the "least worst" party or candidate.

Some friends of mine in the past used to boast about how they didn't vote to "send a message" and I did persuade them that a better way was to spoil their ballot paper, at least that sort of gets counted although there is no distinguishing in the counting between accidentally and deliberately spoilt. In fact going down this road leads us into the "none of the above" area I have seen debated at length previously.