Saturday 5 May 2012

How To Stuff A Ballot Box

For many years one of the staple features of international relations has been British politicians trotting around the world trying to whip up business and while they are at it lecturing other nations as to how they should run their affairs, legal systems, methods of election and the rest.

Few teams of observers at elections in countries whose administrations are suspect in the handling of the machinery of voting and conduct have been without someone from Britain preening themselves about the probity and proper ways we have and all those wonderful traditions and principles.

Looking at the ongoing situational omnishambles this week in the local elections perhaps it is time for us to call in experts and advisers from Zimbabwe and other places to remind us of what we have told them in the past.

The media does not help.  It tells us that there was a “majority” for this or that.  In truth if only thirty per cent of the electorate voted and the margin was small then the decision may have been made on the basis of only, say, sixteen per cent of the electorate.  Some majority. 

If the turn out is even smaller, as it has been in many instances, then it is possible for a decision to be made by perhaps only one in eight in favour.  So where are the rest of them and why are they not registering their votes?

But it gets worse and one reason is the slackness of both the actual voting and the postal votes systems.  The first needs an overhaul on the makeup of electoral registers and identity checking voters.  The second is a method of voting wide open to both manipulation and corrupt practices.

Even the actual administration of the voting and counting can be suspect or faulty.  That the election for the Mayor of London, just about as high profile as you can get, suffered from significant problems verging on farce says it all.

It is worse than that.  It is likely that few electors had much idea about who they were voting for, why and what use these people are when given any authority.  With the shrinkage of membership of the parties, the detachment of authority from personal contact with people and the end of real community these are people who are essentially “others”.

The sheer confusion of who makes what rules and why with all the agencies, bodies and quasi-governmental organisations, mostly non elected overlapping, supervising and very active our local councils are often more post boxes for others and not an effective or responsible organisation.

Add to that the effects of the gross centralisation of the Westminster government in tandem with the flood of regulation, law and directives from Brussels, when you do call the local Council all they can give is a stream of complicated verbal garbage.

All the last week has told me is that we do not have a functioning “democracy”, we have a distorted and damaging electoral system, we have administrations which are neither reliable nor trustworthy and we have a media that is hopeless and corrupt.

We have been here before in many ways.  The picture above is from 1784 and has a reference to Sir Cecil Wray.  This was shortly after the Americans had decided that they did not want London telling them what to do.

The full story can be found at:

What changes?  Why bother voting at all? 

And another crisis is due.

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