Sounds over dramatic surely? Maybe so, but there is a wave of disenchantment, of sheer exasperation and mistrust, which politicians and Remainers would be wise to consider. The harsh truth is that most people in the UK do NOT vote and it’s worth looking at the reasons why so many people have simply given up on democracy.
The Brexit vote has stirred up a great deal of bitterness, on both sides, with the added twist of sour lemon added by the gloating SNP in Scotland, determined to stop Brexit for their own ends. Then there’s Ulster, keen to keep on receiving EU development/regeneration subsidies and no friend of Westminster government, for obvious historical reasons. That anger will be intensified if Brexit never happens – and I don’t believe it will, mainly becasue the EU needs our £350m per week subs. Public anger is one thing, and will dissipate, but the legacy will be a rapid decline in voter turnout in every election. People will then see that their votes count for nothing – a majority result only matters when it’s the `right’ result, as Tony Blair might put it.
Look at the decline in General Election turnout over the last 25 years or so. It peaked at 77% in 1992, as Kinnock’s Labour party narrowly failed to win power. There was a low point in 2001 when Blair’s regime held an iron grip, with a 59% turnout of the electorate. Since then things improved but in 2015 ONE THIRD of all voters couldn’t be arsed voting, even though you can easily – and fraudulently – do it by post.
Two recent by-elections in Sleaford and Richmond also highlighted how it takes a bitter clash of personalities, like Khan vs Goldsmith, to engage voters. Sleepy Sleaford, saw a measly 37% turnout. Yes, almost two thirds of voters thought the whole thing was a waste of time.
THE DANGERS OF A LOW VOTER TURNOUT
Hitler took power via the ballot box, not using a gang of brown-shirted, beered up racists storming the Reichstag with guns. The lower the voter turnout the greater danger we face because extremist candidates – of all political and religious persuasions – can then seize an opportunity to be democratically elected.
If we look at politics in the UK over the last 20 years, we see a fragmentation happening, the collapse of the old two-party system. The Tory vote started to split into UKIP and traditional `one nation’ Conservatives about a decade ago. The Labour Party was wiped out in the 2015 election in Scotland and it’s NEVER coming back from that defeat. The shift towards Corbyn’s Momentum cult proves that Labour has decided its future lies in big cities, where a mix of young voters virtue signalling, long term benefits claimants and migrants offers a dedicated cadre of support.
In the regions, parties like Plaid Cymru, SNP, Lib Dems, DUP, Sinn Fein and others all have their loyal followers, aggrieved and fed up with the old order, the same old `yah-boo’ politics we see at PMQs, the smug elitism of the Lords, and the shameless money-grabbing that almost all career politicians are guilty of. In short, the UK is ready to become ever more divided because the old politics is in bitter denial of the new reality.
But as Tony Benn noted, the answer to imperfect democracy is MORE democracy, not less. That is why the federal, remote, corrupt and unaccountable EU was rejected by 52%. Migration – uncapped at any rate – was a secondary consideration. People can see that ALL politicians now rank themselves way above the rest of us and are most certainly free from obeying the normal rules and laws which apply to the majority of the population.
Mainstream media, pundits and politicians simply cannot grasp that Donald Trump didn’t offered some grand, coherent vision of a new America – he wasn’t voted in for hos policies or values. They were largely irrelevant. What amttered was that for the Mitt Ronmeys, Ted Cruz or Clintons of this world, the game was up – Americans could stomach no more of their blatant lies, greed and duplicity.
People voted to wipe the smug smirk of entitlement off Hillary’s face.
That vengeful anger may yet propel a more sinister figure than Trump into the White House. If you want proof, look to the absolute monarchy of Russia, where Putin rules like a War of The Roses King, surrounded by his mafia-like Barons. There are elections, of course, but does anyone dare vote for real change?
Likewise, in the Middle East, where democracy has NEVER- as in never – taken hold, (except in Israel, ) we see a real danger of sectarian theocracy eclipsing any democratic regime. Egypt, Libya, Iran, Iraq, all the Gulf states…shall I go on? OK, let’s add Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Algeria and possibly Morocco. The economic migrants and refugees that we are inviting into Europe, Canada and the USA often share the belief that equal rights for women, or LGBT people, democracy or free speech are all ultimately subservient to the laws of the Prophet.
One day, both Sunni and Shia will form their own political parties, and votes will be cast along sectarian lines. The question is; once those parties achieve real political power in the UK, ( and the EU, or at least the Western half of the bloc) what laws will they pass, or refuse to accept?
What then for democracy, when gay marriage is repealed by a Coalition of religiously motivated parties, and a far-right party determined to turn back the clock of civilised society? Or all criticism, of all religions, is deemed to be `Hate Speech?’
Be careful what you wish for Remainers, for your refusal to accept the will of the people may yet bring about a tyranny of the few. The few who can be bothered to vote…