A guide to voting in the general election

This is not a political website, but this is a political post – simply because we have a general election coming up in the UK very soon and I’m sick of idiots voting like… well, idiots. I’m not going to tell you which way to vote, I’m simply going to point out a few things that people seem to overlook when it comes to voting. People pay too much attention to what everyone else thinks, but fuck everyone else – or, at least, fuck their opinions. It’s your vote, not theirs. (Conversely, there are times when you need to think about what other people are doing, but this only applies to those of you who plan on voting tactically or abstaining completely.)

This is going to be as unbiased as possible but it’s not so much devil’s advocate as mere observation. I’m not going to tell you how I think everyone should vote. I’m not even going to tell you how I plan to vote. It doesn’t matter. I just want you to remember that other people don’t become soulless monsters once they’ve been given a ballot paper. Our sense of humanity seems to go flying out of the window when it comes to politics, and that’s the most infuriating fucking thing of all.

So, to begin, here are a few reasons why other people and their opinions don’t – or shouldn’t – matter (most of the time):

#1: Understanding and tolerance != agreement

Let me introduce you to some imaginary people. Firstly there’s Dave. Dave is going to vote for Labour. Then there’s Steve, who is going to vote for the Conservatives. Steve thinks Dave is an idiot whose vote will help destroy the country by reducing it to a socialist state; Dave thinks Steve is a cunt whose vote will be partially responsible for the death of poor people. They’ve never met, they’re just basing their opinion on their political leanings.

The trouble here is that it isn’t that straightforward. Dave’s actually a retired (very successful) businessman who comes from an area plagued by poverty and believes that – although taxes are shit and no one wants to pay more of them – the redistribution of wealth amongst the country’s poorest is actually the most beneficial way to run the country. He’s not really thinking about how we should do this, just that it is the right thing to do. So he votes Labour because he thinks they will be the best chance of achieving this ideal. Steve, on the other hand, simply does not understand what it’s like to be genuinely cripplingly poor. He works hard and every month a huge chunk of money is taken away from him – money that he no longer has any control over. He doesn’t want people to starve, or be homeless. He just doesn’t believe it’s fair that he goes to work to support his family – who he hardly sees, because he’s working so fucking hard – only to see some of his hard-earned money appear to be sent to people who aren’t even trying to earn anything themselves yet they still seem to get expensive and frivolous things.

Now, depending on where you fall on the political spectrum, you’ll probably find yourself agreeing with one over the other. That’s fine, that’s how opinions work. But do you find yourself genuinely filled with rage at how bloody stupid the other one is? See, that’s not good. That rage is not going to help you. How could it? What difference does it make? Getting angry at other people for what they believe in is not going to change their minds. You can see this in a million arguments on the internet where people who voted for Britain to remain within the EU shouting ‘racist!’ at people who voted to leave.

The person who gave me the most grief about how I should vote on that occasion was someone who was totally adamant that Britain should leave the EU. She wasn’t – isn’t – a racist; she’s a militant socialist who believed that leaving the EU would be a better deal for disabled people. She was voting for what she believed was the right thing to do – and it’s important to remember that people are voting for what they believe will be the greater good. No one votes for who they believe is going to cause the most damage. The problem here is that some people are idiots, but yelling at them or pointing out their stupidity won’t change their minds. Yelling at people and insulting them usually has the opposite effect, in fact.

(Both Steve and Dave are idiots, by the way. Steve comments on the Daily Mail about “scroungers” with their big-screen TVs – which is total fucking bollocks because I’m poor as fuck and I found my TV in the back alley – and Dave’s actually a massive racist. Speaking of which…)

#2. Vocal minorities are always idiots

I’ve seen a number of people recently become so annoyed with other people on their side of the political spectrum that they are threatening to defer to the enemy. This is lunacy. Don’t do this.

Let’s put it this way: on the left, there are people who think everyone who votes Tory is literally evil and should be shot into space on an eco-friendly rocket. On the right, there are actual nazis. If you’re going to jump ship, don’t jump onto the fucking nazi ship simply because there are some irritants on your poop deck. Ignore them.

If you’re going to vote Conservative, do it because you think they will be the best at running the country. Do it because you read their manifesto and you agree with their policies more than you agree with the policies of the other parties. If you vote Conservative because you’re sick of noisy hippies calling everyone a cunt then, when the Conservatives get into power again, you’ll only have yourself to blame.

Unless that’s secretly what you want, which brings us to…

#3. A secret ballot is a ballot which is SECRET

You don’t have to tell anyone who you voted for. You can even lie about it. Secret ballots are excellent for that. Fuck everyone else, it’s your vote.

#4. An argument against abstaining

I realise that I seem to be addressing people on the left side of the spectrum more than those on the right. This is partly because – it appears to me, at least – that people on the right tend to stay there. They may drift away from the Tories (and then drift back again, judging by UKIP’s results at the recent local elections) but they tend to stay on the right. And they seem to actually vote, which is a bit of a problem when you get people on the left abstaining.

In simple terms, if people on the left choose to boycott and people on the right continue to vote then the people on the left are fucking idiots who might as well vote Tory for all the good their conscientious objection has done. Go and vote, you fucking idiots.

Tactical voting is also problematic, but slightly more understandable. However, if it backfires, and you find yourself with a Labour government that you voted for even though you’re a paid up Green party member then you can’t really complain about it. Unless you lie about who you voted for, in which case no one will ever know (aside from your conscience.)

Choosing who to vote for is hard. Arguably, it should be. This election is even harder, because many people are jaded with the leader of the party they would usually vote for: Conservative supporters voted for David Cameron as prime minister, and suddenly they have a different leader who calls a general election but refuses to debate other party leaders and held hands with Donald Trump. The leader of the Liberal Democrats is scaring off supporters with his religious beliefs, whilst the Labour leader is scaring off supporters by being Jeremy Corbyn.

However you choose to vote, just try to keep in mind that all the ways in which you think people who are voting differently are fucking idiots are the same ways in which they think you’re a fucking idiot. And you’re not an idiot, right? So perhaps there’s a chance that you’re wrong about them.

Or not. Some people are lost causes. Especially Dave, the daft fucking racist.

3 thoughts on “A guide to voting in the general election

  1. This is the first election in which my vote is against someone rather than for someone. I’m not voting for my choice of party because I’m inspired by their leader (although of a bad bunch, they are the best), but because I want to stop another party getting in. And that is a bit sad. But on the other hand, if 47% of Americans last year had disregarded their apathy for their nominees and voted to stop the progress of a moron we might have a slightly less chaotic world right now.

    Previously, I’ve been absolutely pro-spoil when it comes to ballot papers. I’ve lectured people: look, if you don’t like any of them, at least go to the polling booth and say so. It’s a stronger statement to have a pile of spoiled ballots than a pile of unticked ones. But in this current climate, I think even that passive action is dangerous.

    1. Thank you for your comment – sorry for the late reply!

      I am going to write another blog post about how I’m feeling about the result and “confess” who I voted for because I just started writing the longest ever reply to your comment and realised that it wasn’t really fair to ramble all that at you! But I absolutely understand where you are coming from with your remarks about voting against someone. This was a horrible election. It doesn’t even matter that I don’t know who you voted for – most people felt that way about someone, regardless of their political leaning.

      I didn’t cover ballot-spoiling, although strangely enough I’d be more in favour of that than not turning out to vote at all. They keep track of spoiled ballots iirc, so to me that would be a less apathetic way of protest (non-)voting and, as you say, a stronger statement. It has some of the same problems as not voting at all but the physical act of going to the polling booth at least makes you feel as though you’ve done something. There’s also the chance that you’ll get there and meet someone inspirational/incredibly fucking stupid who changes your mind and makes you feel as though you really ought to vote for what you believe in.

      But maybe that’s a bit optimistic…

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