Why Vote in a Safe Seat?

Let’s say you are in a constituency where the sitting MP has a humongous majority. Maybe a majority that is far, far bigger than all the votes for all of the other candidates combined. Like (say) Tottenham.

You have to ask yourself: What is the point in voting?

If you vote for the sitting MP your extra vote when added to the mountain they already have will make no difference. If you vote for any of the other candidates, you stand no chance whatsoever of changing the MP.

Even in a marginal seat a General Election constituency contest has only once been decided by a majority of one and that was back in 1910. As for a draw that has also only ever happened once, back in 1886.

The net result is is that on a personal level the physical and financial gain from participating in a vote, especially in a safe seat, is nil.

On this we have to hang the question: On an individual basis, what IS the point of voting?

The inescapable answer is that on a purely individualistic and selfish  basis there is no point whatsoever.

But voting is not about the individual. Voting is above all else an altruistic act. It is selfless. It has no tangible reward. It results in a group decision where the wisdom of crowds prevails.

(which leads me into a book recommendation – a must read – "The Wisdom of Crowds" by James Surowiecki)

Even so, walking half a mile on a cold and rainy day to vote in an election where the outcome in your constituency is a forgone conclusion does test that altruism somewhat.

There is though a singular advantage in voting in a safe seat constituency. Especially if you are a little disillusioned with either the sitting MP or the main ( but distant) contenders.

You can safely experiment.

You can vote for someone else. You can vote for somebody or some party that takes your fancy. They don’t even have to have a fully formed policy base.

If it tickled you fancy you could vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party without consequence.

But rather than the Monster Raving Loony Party (who I am sure have a set of policies almost as good as any of the main partys anyway), why not use your vote to support a smaller party?

Why not vote for a  party that is possibly struggling to get some notice?

Or maybe you would like to lend your support to a party that will achieve considerable electoral support across the country, but will, thanks to the inequities of out voting system gain no seats.

In either of these cases your vote does have some tangible effect.

For a small party like (say) the SDP it can provide vital visibility. With enough votes, even though they stand no hope of winning the seat, they’ll gain vital exposure. It may well stop them being quite so ignored by the media. Maybe they’ll start cropping up on the MSM Radar more often. This could give them vital publicity to fight future more winnable elections either locally or nationally.

For a larger party like (say) the Brexit Party a vote for them in an unwinnable seat is a vote of support. A vote that will be tallied up nationally. It will show with the millions of others across the country the inequities and plain damn unfairness of our electoral system.

So, as long as you regard altruism as a virtuous ideal, a vote in a safe seat is not a wasted vote.

You can, if you like, add it to the mountain for the current MP. Or vote for one of the traditional partys.

Or you can be adventurous.

Even a vote for the Monster Raving Loony Party is better than no vote at all!

No comments: