Why I spoiled my ballot paper

It’s elec­tion day for the Dyfed and Powys Police and Crime Commissioner elec­tions. I think they mean Police Commissioner. I don’t think it’s Conservative Party policy to have more people com­mis­sion­ing crimes too. I think if were to con­jure a scheme to ali­en­ate people from demo­cracy, the Dyfed and Powys Police and Crime Commissioner elec­tions would be an excel­lent model to follow.

Labour’s can­did­ate is a former agri­cul­ture min­is­ter who was cen­sured for fail­ing to deliver on prom­ises. The Labour gov­ern­ment removed her from office on the eve of the big agri­cul­tural show in Wales because they thought that would be less embar­rass­ing than hav­ing her con­tinue in office.

I can­not vote for the Labour can­did­ate. That leaves, and I’m pedantic enough to list every single party, the Conservatives.

That’s it.

To be fair to the Conservative can­did­ate, he does sound sane. He’s in favour of help­ing drug addicts with rehab­il­it­a­tion. I think a Conservative can­did­ate who favours things that work over dogma is a good thing and I’d like to sup­port him. And there’s the bonus that you’ll be able to say with con­fid­ence the police really are the para­mil­it­ary wing of the Conservative Party. And that’s the prob­lem. I have com­plete con­tempt for the elec­tion and it’s the Conservatives who’ve fois­ted it on the coun­try. A vote for the Conservative can­did­ate is a vote of approval for the sys­tem and this is abso­lutely the wrong system.

Political rep­res­ent­a­tion to the police is not the thing I have a prob­lem with. There are issues that are polit­ical with a small p that need rep­res­ent­at­ives. My prob­lem with the elec­tion is that we already have them. We have a local coun­cil, we have a county coun­cil, we have a national assembly and we have the UK Parliament. There’s plenty that’s wrong with them, but as far as poli­cing goes they have a fant­astic advant­age. They’re plural.

The law should be impar­tial. Politicians often are not, and even those who are need to be seen to be impar­tial and it’s dif­fi­cult to do that with a party tag round your neck. However with the lay­ers of gov­ern­ment even if I do think there’s polit­ical bias, I can find a rep­res­ent­at­ive who I can at least talk to. The local Conservative can­did­ate is clear that he will aim to rep­res­ent all people in the region. Great but why would the Conservative Party want to bypass the demo­crat­ic­ally elec­ted bod­ies like the local coun­cil (no Conservative major­ity), the county coun­cil (no Conservative major­ity), the national assembly (no Conservative major­ity), or the UK par­lia­ment (no Conservative majority)?

If I can’t vote for either then not-voting makes sense. The prob­lem with not-voting is that it’s indis­tin­guish­able from apathy, which is a sig­nal to all parties that they can do whatever they like. That leaves spoil­ing the bal­lot paper.

Spoiling the bal­lot paper is futile in the UK. It makes no dif­fer­ence to the res­ult, but to me at least it’s an action. Police Minister Damien Green has con­tempt for people who don’t vote http://​www​.bbc​.co​.uk/​n​e​w​s​/​u​k​-​p​o​l​i​t​i​c​s​-​2​0​2​5​7​552 and you can see why when so much of the elect­or­ate has con­tempt for him. I can now at least com­plain I have tried to take part in the pro­cess and a lack of choice includ­ing the choice to re-open nom­in­a­tions is exclud­ing me from democracy.

If we were allowed to write in can­did­ates my choice would be Jackie Roberts. I think she has exper­i­ence, know­ledge of the local area and, see­ing as she’s Chief Constable of the Dyfed-Powys force, she’d have an office in the heart of the organisation.

The com­fort is that pre­sum­ably Damien Green will be out of his post tomor­row. His sin­cer­ity that Police and Crime Commissioners are a good idea must surely mean his own post of Police Minister is redundant?


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When he's not tired, fixing his car or caught in train delays, Alun Salt works part-time for the Annals of Botany weblog. His PhD was in ancient science at the University of Leicester, but he doesn't know Richard III.

4 Responses

  1. That’s a hard choice. We at least have some inde­pend­ents, so I can vote out­side the party polit­ical sys­tem. I assumed all areas would have that, so that’s inter­est­ing and has taught me some­thing — thank you.

  2. I don’t think it’s Conservative Party policy to have more people com­mis­sion­ing crimes too.”

    I think your Conservative Party must work very dif­fer­ently from the (large-c and small-c) con­ser­vat­ive parties on this side of the pond.

  3. I am only vot­ing, if one of my can­did­ates is called Gordon!

  4. Gav says:

    Yes it’s a shame Ron (re-open nom­in­a­tions) wasn’t standing.

    Quite a high pro­por­tion of people I’ve spoken to chose to spoil their papers. Not exactly a rep­res­ent­at­ive sample but it would be inter­est­ing to see if the total num­bers of spoiled (or is that spoilt?) papers are published.