The Ranting Kraut

19.3.2006 – 27.9.2010

Conscripting Voters

Posted by rantingkraut on May 1, 2006

The Blairite think tank Institute for Public Policy Research has come out in favour of conscripting citizens to vote and mentions some approving comments by politicians. The implications in civil liberties terms should be obvious and according to the BBC have been highlighted by the Tories [1].
If such a measure serves a useful purpose, it must be that of highlighting the arrogance of the ruling elites: if people don’t bother voting, it can’t possibly be because there are only different flavours of shite to pick from. Surely those voters are just too dumb to realise how important elections are, although paradoxically they then appear to be bright enough to decide who should rule the country. One should think that if there was a genuine choice to be made then anyone who doesn’t recognize its importance would be ill placed to make that choice in the first place.
As so often, the language used is also quite entertaining. The IPPR discusses voter conscription under the heading of “voting inequality”. This makes it clear that inequality is not seen as a problem because opportunities where denied to some: the right to vote, by definition, is available to the entire electorate. What concerns the likes of the IPPR is the mere existence of unequal outcomes whatever their reason.

A good idea?
Among all the authoritarian hubris, the IPPR has managed to suggest one interesting option: “Compulsory turnout is not compulsory voting. Ballot papers can be spoiled or can contain options to vote for ‘none of the above’” If ‘none of the above’ is a candidate then surely he should be able to win an election and be represented by an empty seat in the commons. Surely the taxpayers in his constituency should receive a rebate to reflect the savings in MP’s pay and expenses. And finally, if the ‘nones of the above’ receive the largest share of the vote, the Queen should follow tradition and appoint the prime minister from the largest party, leaving the UK without a government for a full term. I don’t know what the IPPR’s ultimate intentions are, but they may have inadvertently created a blueprint for Europe’s first anarchist monarchy.

[1] “… the Tories are not convinced, arguing that the move would be an “unwelcome extension of the state” into the rights and liberties of citizens.”

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