Floating Voter


I’ve voted in every election I’ve been eligible for since I came of age. I don’t quite know how many that would have been, but maybe twenty to thirty.

And I’ve NEVER voted for a candidate who was elected. I think that’s because I genuinely vote by conscience in that I choose the candidate whose views or whose party policies most closely coincide with my own. My own opinions obviously are very unpopular: democracy, justice and equality.

Well, to be honest, once I voted “tactically”. I voted for David Trimble, UUP First Minister of Northern Ireland, who was at risk of losing his Westminster seat to the more extreme DUP. I had some sympathy for Trimble, who had struggled to get his party to vote to give him a mandate for negotiating power-sharing in Northern Ireland. (In contrast, the DUP — like their opponents/partners Sinn Féin — don’t have to bother getting formal membership approval. The party leaders do what they like.) Trimble was defeated and lost his seat as MP.

One one other occasion, I “spoiled” my ballot paper by drawing on an extra box at the bottom and writing “None of the above” in it. That was when the only candidates in my constituency were from the four main sectarian parties (SF, SDLP, DUP & UUP) in Northern Ireland.

I call those parties “sectarian” and won’t be voting for them based on the fact that each has a non-negotiable policy on the future status of Northern Ireland. I realise that, technically, that isn’t the same as being sectarian, but in the context of Northern Ireland, it certainly is, and the parties gleefully exploit it. Hence the previous election pacts between the UUP and DUP, pursuing sectarianism and relegating actual policy differences to insignificance. SF wanted similar pacts with the SDLP, which rejected the approaches, to the party’s credit.

I could vote for the non-sectarian Alliance Party, but I find their economic and social values too right-wing. They also allow members to vote against party policy by “conscience” without sanction, and these issues tend to be about gay rights and other equality matters which mean something to me.

In the upcoming election, that leaves me with Greens, the Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee, and Cannabis is Safer than Alcohol. While the last is undoubtedly true, I don’t think a single-issue party is for me. Even if they remember to turn up.

I’d probably vote for a Corbynista Labour candidate if one was allowed to stand, and hence the “Northern Ireland Labour Representation Committee” — candidates who support Labour, but want the party’s Northern Ireland ban to be abolished. Is that also a single-issue party? Although they do come out against Tory “austerity” (“austerity” means “economic illiteracy”.)

I agree with the Green Party about a lot. They’re anti-austerity, pro-democracy, pro-people, pro-choice, pro-queer and pro-environment. Though I think the party’s opposition to fracking is childish and uninformed, based largely on shit off the internet. I oppose fracking too, but because it’s a fossil fuel, even if it’s a far less harmful fossil fuel than coal or oil. Lurid fears of contamination are not something I share, but regardless, the investment should be in renewables instead.

Where does that leave me? 1 & 2 preference votes are going to have to be the two parties last-mentioned. I’ll see on Thursday how I feel.


3 thoughts on “Floating Voter

  1. Greens for me this time… I think we vote in the same constituency and this is the first time we’ll have had an opportunity to vote for them. I do wish Labour would stand here… but my guess is they are too wedded to Irish Nationalism to upset the apple cart… standing here stinks too much of “Normalisation” for them…

    Most of Labour (or a lot of labour) are happy enough to see people voting for Sinn Fein, and think the SDLP are akin the the oddball table at the family wedding… “Who invited them?”

    No mention of the Workers Party in this blog…?

    Also wish PBP were standing here.

    • No WP candidate this time? Actually, if I was going by posters and mailed leaflets I’d think there was no Green candidate either.

      I think British Labour is infected with a woolly-minded notion that Irish nationalism is cosy and nice, while British nationalism is nasty and fascist. In reality, having a national identity is fine, but it easily leads to bad things if you let it.

      A People Before Profit candidate would have complicated my thoughts. Probably, the position I’ve come to over the years is close to those ideas. I’m still a socialist, but distrust structures and careerists.

      • You’re right… I haven’t seen Green posters or had any election material from them… It’s a sad thought that I might live in a area where parties other than Sinn Fein and the SDLP wouldn’t canvass… It’s almost like they (other parties) are saying “What’s the point?”…

        I’m not comfortable with Nationalism as a concept… being of the community I am and upbringing I’ve had, I can easily see the ugly side of British Nationalism and find it harder to see it’s nice side. Yet, my overall impression of Irish Nationalism is that’s somewhat lefty and nice…

        Yet history shows how many Irish nationalists, including those around in 1916 (and now) are right wing, white supremacist, or free market capitalists… or indeed a mixture of all three…

        Not to mention it’s recent murderous 40 years.

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