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Thanks to Tom, who actually has friends, for giving this site a much needed shot in the arm last week by referencing my post on the BNP’s Jesus poster. Subsequent shock at receiving visitors, discussion with one of said visitors who actually commented (!) and reading of comments left on Tom’s post prompted deeper thought and even some actual research into both the BNP and the forthcoming European Elections. Today a friend from church emailed me and a bunch of others asking about the Christian Party – Christian Peoples Alliance, who are standing in the elections. I’m still sorting out a lot of this in my head, and still trying to get a grip on these matters (and your comments, experiences and links to further reading would be much appreciated), but i think i am prepared to say at least this much:


ok, so here’s the disclaimer – i am terrible at voting. I am cynical and apathetic almost by nature but especially about the political process. I do feel powerless to make any real difference when my vote is just one in hundreds of thousands. i have been known to dismiss all but the westminster parliament as largely irrelevant, i generally feel pretty uninformed about the issues and i don’t feel that any of the parties are a close match to my views anyway, so why vote for them? So i’m not coming from a position of moral-high-ground handwringing judgementalism here. Its more that as i started to think about things and follow a few links last week, i’ve been inspired to change my views a little and i’d like to explain why.

First off it turns out that the European Parliament is responsible for making decisions on stuff i really care about, like issues of civil liberty and security, freedom of movement of people between states, energy and environmental policy, distribution of research grants and aid to the developing world, lots of issues around fair trade, provision of political asylum, criminal justice, freedom of speech and anti-discrimination laws… the list goes on. Interestingly, one very big issue that MEPs have no power over whatsoever is how Pro-europe or Eurosceptic their home countries are – they have no say over whether their countries ratify european treaties, join the single currency, agree to a european defence force… all those are issues the national parliaments decide on. So i’d advise people to vote for MEPs based on the important policy issues they do have the power to affect, rather than on the issues about european integration, which they cant influence at all.

Secondly, the Proportional Representation system used in these elections really changes my thinking on the effectiveness of my vote. The westminster parliament constituency i grew up in was generally thought of as a very safe seat. So it felt like my vote wouldn’t really change anything either way – the outcome was a foregone conclusion. On thursday, there is actually some potential for a close result – more than one outcome is possible. Suddenly, my tiny vote might actually help. Crucially, PR means that not only the votes for the “winner” count. In my region any voter block with between 15-20% of the vote will secure a representative. In some regions, any voter block of more than about 8-9% will get a representative. Also, the particular PR system used* means that even voting for a party with a very low share of the vote will have an effect on the percentage share of the vote the other parties recieve, and thus how the vote is divided, and thus who gets elected. Suddenly it seems like i have viable and meaningful options for my vote, and that might vote might actually contribute something to the outcome. Its no longer irrelevant.

Thirdly i found this, which helped me to quickly find out which of the (6 or 7 biggest) parties that i clould elect would most closely represent my views. (note – don’t rely on the graph at the end to decide which party you’re closest to – play around with the options on the right as the graph can be misleading)

I have to confess i’m actually getting excited about voting on thursday. I want to get this up quickly, so i’ll write more about the elections and the BNP and the Christian Party and other matters if i get the chance, but for now i just wanted to share my thinking about simply voting.

If you’re registered to vote, you should have received a postal vote or a poll card telling you where your polling station is. If not look on the electoral commision website below, type in your postcode and look for the heading that says “Your electoral registration office” – the phone number there should put you through to someone who can help.

Info from the electoral commission here

Info on the situation in your constituency here (click on your region in the menu on the left. Its then worth scrolling down to the comments at the bottom)

*The D’hondt method. Can’t speak for the rest of Europe, but they’re using this system in all the constituencies in the UK except Northern Ireland (using Single Transferable Vote there). Completely irrelevant fact discovered whilst researching this: there is an individual called Ian Parsley standing for election in NI. This amused me greatly.


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