Turnout at the next General Election may fall below 50%…unless the population are required to vote by law….

Liberal that I am, the last thing I want to do is follow Tony Blair’s footsteps in turning our democracy into anything more of a “banana republic” style joke. Democracy is precious, and for all the improvements made to the way in which our system works there are far too many ways in which corruption is now commonplace. I say this as an activist and a voter: postal voting “for all” has taken away the assurance of British democracy being amongst the best in the world.

Understandably the MPs expenses scandal (of which so much more is being played out as we speak) has turned off many more thousands of voters who have tired of parliamentarians of all persuasions. There can only be so many times MPs can promise to be “whiter than white” only to throw a strop when an attempt is made to close the scandal sooner rather than later. Turnout in 2010 will fall below 50%, of that I am confident, as a consequence of the expenses mess and the inability for anyone – most notably Gordon Brown – to do anything constructive about the sorry affair.

As with so many Prime Ministers, the administration of elections – voting systems and the like – flies over the head of Brown as a mere irrelevance. That our democracy is more flawed and failing now than it was 10 or 20 years ago means nothing. That Labour are a Government with less support than any other in living memory is just tittle-tattle. First-past-the-post means winner-takes-all, and that is – as they say – “end of”.

So how about we look at the “modernising for the sake of it” zeal of Tony Blair and the Department for Constitutional Affairs/Ministry of Justice addiction to fiddling about with electoral administration, to come up with something of our own? If it’s alright for Belgium, Greece, and Australia, it could well work over here. Could the United Kingdom be fit for….compulsory voting?

From “a stern letter” to “a month community service”, what to do with anyone who does not cast a vote under compulsory voting is often brought up as a damn good reason not to introduce it here. Certainly no party leader has yet suggested the nation should be forced by legislation to show an opinion at a ballot-box (and I know from experience that opinion can be, in red capital letters, “CORRUPT BASTARDS”). Compulsion does not equal with liberalism, and I agree that following this Government down the route of legislating for everything is not the way to install confidence in the minds of very suspicious voters. However there is a massive contradiction which doesn’t tally up with my liberalism; how can there be so many opinions on politics, expenses, and current affairs, and yet so few people turning out to vote?

How can – indeed – so many people phone X-Factor phone lines or get Facebook to analyse what kind of serial killer/vegetable/famous footballer they are while not walking to the nearest church at election time? Compulsion, with a small fine perhaps after two or three no-shows, would surely promote politics and current affairs at the most local level? It would certainly ensure candidates do knock on every door in fear of being labelled as the one who can’t even get out the vote when there’s a law ensuring it happen…

Of course compulsory voting has not been suggested by anyone for one very good reason, and for that matter why my personal liberal persuasion cannot quite feel totally invigorated by the promise of future telling sessions being a little busier. Compulsory voting would merely sour further the relationship between voter and Westminster. For all my hope that people would be willing to find out more about each party, each candidate, every issue, the reality would be far less ideal; voters would feel angry at the lack of a “none of the above” option, and dismayed that politicians have tried to repair a broken system by seemingly punishing ordinary people. Turnout is falling because of a failure of more than just access to a ballot box on a wet Thursday.

As a liberal, compulsion from “up high” never sits well with me. Belgium and Australia have their systems woven into the fabric of their states, and in Greece there is no penalty for not voting anyway. In the UK our negative opinion of politicians suggests high turnouts, even though this is not the reality: trying to force people to have an actual recordable opinion by means of a ballot paper would be something to aim for…were it likely to achieve anything. For all that it may kill off the purile insult “if you don’t vote, you can’t complain”, I guess it is not something for the United Kingdom’s rather unique electoral system.

Unless, of course, radical reform far beyond the tame introduction of AV is the elephant crouching in the corner of the room. Liberalism never was easy to align with reality…

Orgy in reverse

David Cameron, the next United Kingdom Prime Minister, will have a task on his hands to repair the country following the disruptive and damaging effects of a Labour administration whose attitude towards economic stability appears as haphazard as the attitude of drunk youths outside a backstreet bar on a Friday night. If history truly is cyclical rather than linear, Cameron’s post-election strategy will be almost identical to that of Margaret Thatcher in 1979: taking a country bankrupted by a Labour Government and doing as much as possible to improve things.

The circles of history are concentric; while Prime Minster Cameron starts his new career path, the Labour opposition will be following their early 80s comrades by electing a new leader….and potentially splitting up. If the post-ideological age we now live in truly has blurred the distinctions between “left” and “right”, “Labour” and “Conservative” voters, “working” and “middle” classes, what chance a revival of Labour’s 1980s leadership woes and “Gang of Four” declaration?

Political anoraks have often supposed and chin-stroked that the United Kingdom is overdue a massive shake-up of her political parties. Not since 1988 has there been the launch of a new mainstream party – the Liberal Democrats – and following this only a number of fringe groups have appeared on the extremes of each political wing. RESPECT on the left, the England First Party on the right, neither with any lasting credibility. In Scotland, the Scottish Socialist Party, and Solidarity, had fleeting appearances in the Scottish Parliament. Both are now in serious decline.

One often repeated “what if” is the re-emergence of a Social Democratic Party (the name remains in British politics, if only in a tiny fashion, in the guise of a number of borough councillors in Bridlington). Take some Blairite Labour MPs, mix with disgruntled Tories and LibDems, and hey-ho, there’s the new face of 21st century British politics. Conservatives on one side, a SDP-type on the other, with far smaller “rump” socialist Labour, and “traditional” Liberal parties on the edge.

History suggested how this may have worked following the formation of the (initially loose) SDP/Liberal alliance in the 1983 and 1987 elections. Tantalisingly close to beating Labour at one point, the experiment ultimately failed. By 1988, the Alliance had grown into full merger, hence the LibDems, but notably the Tony Blair inspired modernisation of Labour introduced far more social-democratic policies than socialist.

The identity of the next Labour leader has been the subject of much “parlour games” too. Alan Johnson remains the most often repeated “clear favourite”. Whoever is chosen – a newly de-Baroned Peter Mandleson? – would do well not to repeat history entirely. Labour nearly died once following a Conservative victory, to come close to death again in a very different political age could be ultimately fatal. They begin their Conference nearly 20 points behind the Conservatives in the opinion polls, with Gordon Brown only celebrated abroad not at home, without any Cabinet member making the running in the media. The signs for a Labour recovery are very faint, it’s the parents looking at their very old family dog knowing there’s no time left but unsure how to break the sad news to the children. It’s the writing of the obituary while the subject is recovering from a nasty cough.

David Cameron, Prime Minister, is one certainty. What will follow for Labour is anybody’s guess. A bad Conference is the last thing they need right now. A little bit of history repeating would be their worst nightmare.

Norwich North – analysis pornography

The by-election result in Norwich North, an election won by the Conservative Chloe Smith following the somewhat forced resignation of Ian Gibson, was blogged and tweeted endlessly throughout the day. I have my own analysis at the end of this blog, but to begin with (although some posts on blogs may well be “trolls” but…) here are some of the current blog comments;

The magnitude of this defeat shows that this was more than just a protest vote and it was more than simply a reaction to the expenses crises – that excuse did not wash after June 4 and it will not wash this time.No, a swing of this proportion – not unlike the one to Labour in the Wirral in 1997 – is a sign of embedded culture change. It shows that the country is ready and willing – if not craving – to vote for a Tory government in substantial numbers.”Alex Smith”LabourList

If, with the government having screwed up the economy for a generation, lead us into the Iraq war and not winning in Afghanistan, got unpopular personnel at the top, were worst offenders on expenses etc and we still can’t beat them, we should be very afraid for the GE. (“Simon R” LibDemVoice)

This was an average by-election & doesnt tell us much except to confirm the softness of the Tory vote & the potential for Labours to collapse. Looking at all the evidence I still see no signs of a Conservative landslide(“plumbus”LibDemVoice

It is utterly astonishing that we were not able to show the electorate what a disgusting sham the Conservatives are on expenses – not having sacked the three ‘flipping’ front-benchers – on top of their overall lack of any policies whatsoever. “RobertC”LibDemVoice

As someone who welcomed a Labour victory in 1997 the wheel has turned full circle and most of us are eagerly anticipating a similarly spectacular comeuppance for you in 2010.”Andrew Webber” LabourList

As for Labour and its future, it certainly doesn’t look good, but I do warn my party not to get carried away with this result. It is tremendous yes, but there is still along way to go to reach government again. “Scott Carlton”ConservativeHome

The result will be recorded in history as a Conservative Gain, leaving the acres of analysis and comment to the archives. Something does need to be said about each of the party performances in turn, not least because this was the first opportunity given to voters to comment on the expenses scandal. Clearly voters who felt that Labour’s “star chamber” had pushed Ian Gibson out for the sake of looking reactive to the expenses mess had their say in capital letters.

I would liked to have seen a better result from April Pond, the Liberal Democrat candidate. Our by-election machine has clearly not been working properly for some time now, as seen in Crewe & Nantwich and now Norwich North. The Focus newsletter onslaughts may need to be re-evaluated, not least the infamous bar-charts showing distorted statistics. Electorates may have fallen for this in the past; the results recently suggest limited returns on such “old standbys”.

Labour have tried clutching at straws since the result was announced, it was like watching a badly written character in an otherwise good play. This seat should not have been lost, but once again a complacent and lazy Labour party have been shown more than just a scant disregard from voters. It is not enough to say that Gordon Brown is working terribly hard on the matters of the day – on June 4th, and now again, his actions have been commented upon in shouts of derison. The country is exhausted with Labour’s destruction of everything it touches: we need Gordon Brown out of office, and a general election held immediately.

UKIP and Green supporters are very happy, and so they should be. Both parties recorded their best ever by-election results. UKIP are probably still riding the high-tide from the European Elections, although continued high results like this could suggest that they really are setting themselves in a position as Britain’s “alternative conservative”. Green Party supporters may have hoped for better than fifth after topping Norwich last month, but to get 10% in this part of the country is nevertheless an encouraging sign.

Now for the also-rans. Craig Murray wanted to “put an honest man in parliament”; his blog suggests he had difficulty in asking the BBC to give him air time and problems with the Post Office regarding his election DVD as standard election communication. To go from a standing start in an election like this, with a media like ours, was always going to be difficult, although some of Murray’s blog posts suggest he has a tendency to make overblown conclusions from simple affairs.

The BNP did very badly. Which is a good thing.

The Libertarian Party made their debut, following months of blogosphere hype, getting less than 40 votes. Just thirty-six. An absolute disaster from a bunch who claimed to be the next big thing in politics.

Bill Holden (independent), Peter Baggs (independent), and Anne Fryatt (NOTA), scored very badly too. Traditional protest vote candidate Alan Hope from the Loonies got only 144, a sign perhaps that even this group have run out of voters.

For this election to have any long-term significance, it needs to be the rock that falls squarely on the roof of Labour as it crashes down the mountain. There is always talk of “Brown’s last chance”: for this to be a genuine observation Brown needs to realise the level to which his party has fallen in popularity. His governance is laughable, his party exhausted, his standing snake-belly low. Norwich North will be spun by Labour’s robotic loyalists as “just one of those things”. Had they any idea of the real world they would be preparing their general election literature and brushing off their CVs.


Gordon Brown is mad. This much we have established. On the subject of helicopters provided to our troops in Afghanistan he is both mad and deluded. Bob Ainsworth – our man at the Defense Ministry reportedly nicknamed “Bob Ain’t Worth It” by senior miltary types – is clearly just as unable to grasp the issue seriously. There are not enough helicopters in Afghanistan, that much is clear. All this “60% increase” nonsense is playing with numbers – the amount of troops and the increase in helicopters do not match.

Calls for more equipment seem to fly over the head of Brown. At the Liason Committee earlier this week – minutes of which do not seem to be easily at hand – he refused even to answer the simple question about whether a request for more troops was made. Any straight answer is seen as a potential trap for Gordon Brown, that much is frank and obvious. He cannot give a straight answer in case the truth trips him up, it’s almost paranoia. Maybe it is.

This time last year the Times reported on one of the Ministry of Defences many cock-ups – £500m wasted on Chinooks stuck in a warehouse in Cambridgeshire warehouse. Are these dust-covered helicopters counted among the increase in equipment supply I wonder?

Gordon Brown was quite rightly put on the ropes by David Cameron on the subject of public spending – everyone but Brown it seems is smart enough to realise that taxes will have to increase to deal with the £700bn (and counting) public debt wrapped around our neck by our one-time Chancellor. Now Cameron, and Nick Clegg, are triumphing over Gordon again.

Brown has never done a decent thing in his entire political career. Just one thing will save his reputation – calling a general election. Everyone – from our soldiers in Aghanistan to low-paid workers suffering under the abolition of the 10p tax rate – deserves better than Labour.

Comprehensive Spending Review

Some Sunday habits are impossible to break. Tucked up in bed this morning with The Observer, Andrew Marr, and a brew, as ever has been the case for years. Okay so when I was younger it was the Independent on Sunday, David Frost, and coffee, but time and age does funny things to a man.

Financial responsibility in this time of moving house and not even writing down rough budgets for the remaining month does have the hint of our Prime Minister’s avoidance of any firm decision on public spending. Unlike Brown, or at least I hope, there will be wakening up call from fate sooner rather than later. Why only this morning I heard a mother tell her son, “You have to be better with your pocket money” when he moaned about not having enough left for an oversized pebble-filled bouncing ball. That’s his version of, say, my council tax bill. It’s the rich thread of life, etc, etc.

One bottle of milk – 97p. One mini packet of sushi – £1. Five packets of CapriSun – £1. All consumed within moments of purchase. That’s responsibility right there. Okay, so this week I have no doubt that there’s budgeting to be done, not least because I have yet to prepare for the upcoming Scottish holiday never mind living on my own. Unless situations built on firmer foundations fashion themselves in the next 72-hours or so, you won’t believe the ideas I’ve drafted for the day before setting off camping….It’s all about dealing with the tough economic climate, you know, it’s sensible.


BBC Question Time

Blogger Iain Dale tells us that 22 Labour ministers were too scared to turn up on BBC Question Time. As it goes, the show tonight was quite interesting. And not a blanked ████, ████, or ████ ████ at all in sight.

On expenses, the same old story has moved on with the on-line publication of expenses with most detailed “redacted”. Of course the lines were – it’s not our fault, it’s the system. Fair play to Liberal Democrat Ed Davey on showing signs of openness. I am not sure Esther Rantzen, coming across as a member of the “Bleeding Obvious Party”, will not go through the streets of Luton being welcomed by all if she maintains her matronly attitude.

Ken Clarke attempted to dig himself and his party out of the problems with leaving the EPP-ED. The problem with the European Parliament is the fixed number of parties and people needed to form a valid group. David Cameron’s Conservatives are going to have to sit with some extreme and prejudiced people from the East. He will learn to regret his desire not to sit among the more credible Christian Democrats.

Gordon Brown’s decision to blather “10 per cent!” every response was rightly given the thumbs down. We are a nation in serious debt, almost entirely because of Gordon Brown’s personal mistakes and mishandling of our finances. Of course this nation is going to have to cut back on spending, either that or higher taxes. Some honesty, as ever, will be welcomed.

Question Time remains somewhat outdated – suggesting Ceefax rather than Twitter, for example. But the topics remain as up to date and relevant as ever. What a pity that our Labour Cabinet (those cowardly █████) could not be bothered to answer to anyone.

death to politicians, and also me

So, another dream of note. Its conclusion woke me up – Gordon Brown and I think Alan Duncan but could have been someone else – in a business or shop of some kind. The owner burst through a door, killing us all with three clean gun shots to the head. Focusing here on something other than me dreaming of our Prime Minister, work instead on the hyper-realism of some of the details – shimmer of light against the windows of passing traffic, the headmasterly click-scrape-click of shoes against pavement. We ended up talking about voting reform, I think, but prior to this I am sure that the men to whom I was talking – and in my dreams they may have been a representation of Mssrs Brown and Duncan – were bouncing and skipping along elevated platforms at one point.

The assassination was a conclusion to a sprawling mass of narrative. A very attractive and buxom young woman was the lead character of an entertaining musical in which I played no part. As though the brain was channel-hopping, I watched as she stole money through some form of credit card scam, than sang about it during a song-and-dance number straight from the most camp Broadway show imaginable. Quite what this long entertaining passage (three, five, maybe more minutes, or so I perceived) was doing filtering through my consciousness I cannot gather.

I wake with a murmur of babbling recollection. Dreams fading from a stained colour to white-noise, and then disappear into translucent frames vanishing into the air. Silence of a deeper, darker form rests in the room. Onwards, push the important thoughts and considerations, onwards away from dance routines and death. Far more relevant things to consider now…For one, dreaming about Gordon Brown, good lord….

This is London calling…

Gordon Brown is mad. There is nothing ground breaking in that statement, almost every commentator has dropped enough hints. Like some Soviet-era leader from the times before his appearances become increasingly rare and more suggestive of a person not in full control of his capabilities. “Psychologically flawed” we know is an old comment on the Prime Minister, “insecure”, “self-conscious”, “angry” comes from leaked emails today alone.

Is it as unfair to bring up personal flaws in this matter as it was to focus on, say, Susan Boyle? Media pressure, the constant need to keep up stories and maintain the mood in the headlines, abhors unity. But the important point is Brown’s place as our Prime Minister; we cannot be lead by a troubled man surrounding himself with the evidence of his ‘reverse Midas’ touch.

Today is the democratic version of the Eurovision Song Contest. Across Europe, except the Dutch who like to do things differently, the votes in the European Parliament elections will be counted from tonight. The Dutch results show a high vote for the controversial Party For Freedom (Partij voor de Vrijheid), their leader banned from the UK, their policies extreme on matters of immigration.

I cannot feel comfortable about the British results. The far-right BNP are very likely to win a seat, such short-term reactions which fill me with dread and not too little fear. There is nothing good, no edifying characteristic, to come from the British National Party, whose members cannot defend with any seriousness or validity their horrific and prejudiced views. Of course mainstream political parties have failed in their responsibilities, of course attitudes towards mainstream political parties is the most negative that I have known. Building up our reputation is the highest of all priorities – that means getting on the streets, dealing with people on their level, not prescription politics but community action. All that needs to be done to combat the apathy and understandable distrust of politicians.

Tonight, all over Europe, the votes will decide the future of countries in a way barely explained one inch over the last few years never mind the “election period”. It upsets me that the BNP will be given some form of legitimacy on a European level. Whatever hard work needs to be done to combat them needs to be started, and started now.

on polling day

Commercial radio plays in the background – Spice Girls, Savage Garden, Simply Red, something I don’t recognise which could be a jingle. The tricky Su Doku is not being completed very quickly; I’m free enough to fill in every number from one to nine in every box twice over, though, turnout is not exactly booming. The Daily Mail is frothing at the mouth. It’s not my natural choice but for now it’s the only thing to hand: I read it from top to bottom, copyright included.

This Polling Station is a church hall, smelling faintly of over enthusiastic spraying of air freshener. Jesus on the cross looks down over the ballot boxes. Those who are coming to vote do so with gaps of twenty or so minutes between each other – a man in a Slayer t-shirt, an old couple with polite if dismissive smiles for me and my orange rosette, a young lad with confusion in his eyes. I wait for some kind of guide to the mood of them, but there’s nothing more than a “Jesus on a bike” reaction to the two-foot European Parliament ballot paper. Time clicks by very slowly. I struggle with the Su Doku until the whole exercise becomes so intense I can hear the numbers laughing at me.

“Telling” probably sounds totally useless for most of the population. Honestly it probably is. Even in times before technology the numbers were only as useful for the short timeframe between getting them from polling station to agent. Today the computer programme used to log the numbers is clumsy, slow, with no connection to on-line analysis or communication to other party members in different parts of the city. Trying to explain why we need numbers is becoming increasingly hard, some people assume it is just one of those cute harmless traditions. Gruff young men – maybe voting for the first time – are less likely to fall for the oft-repeated line, “It’s just to stop us knocking you up later”. A young mother at another polling station smiles, “You can trouble me all you like but I’m not giving you my number.”

At a school sports hall, turnout is far more brisk. It’s the afternoon rush. “I’ve just voted for you,” starts a friendly enough bloke in a builder’s merchant t-shirt, “but not in the Euros.” He leaves the subtle hint in the air long enough for me to get the hint. With nobody saying it out loud it’s hard to guess how many people have made a choice they could live to regret on the wallpaper-sample sized ballot. Reports come from one part of town where people are queuing out of one polling station; from another such tumbleweed quietness there’s an unsettling sense of isolation from the outside world.

“We read James and The Giant Beanstalk. How would the giant feel?” With nothing else to read, I take a look at the features on the wall. I fince he wud be angrily becuz jack stoled all his hings reads one of the hand-written captions. I wonder how Gordon Brown feels now…

I open a packet of crisps. Two voters walk in. I try again. Three voters walk in. And again. God does not want me to eat these ready-salted crisps. A woman chats to me about litter and dog-mess on pavements, proving that these things really do come high on peoples lists at election time. As she talks to me, an older man is getting vocal with the electoral staff in the next room. He has never received a polling card and wants somebody to do something about it there and then. Calls are made to Town Hall, mumbled conspiracy theories are bounded around. Nobody suggests, as UKIP end up doing, that folded ballot papers are experiment in mass disenfranchising.

Another hour in another church. “How’s turnout been, like?” “Fairly ropey”. The man is middle-aged, sporting a robust moustache. “I mean to say, like, if you want to get rid of…I’ve heard them, ‘oh I don’t want to vote for them, they all need to go’, I mean, what I’m saying is, if you want to get rid of them, you vote them out, don’t you?” His wife, three strides away, folding her arms, nods her head. “Vote them out, absolutely”. A young woman with art teacher hair and a sensible beige dress gives me an awkward smile. She leaves the polling station chatting into her mobile phone, “Green or Christian Party? Green? I didn’t know there was a Christian Party.”

Unusually for an election day, there is no other party member on telling duty. An old councillor used to chat for hours about every election story he’d ever experienced. Sometimes sweets are handed out, sandwiches if you’re lucky. Old hands spot known voters, wink or shake hands or hug. Today there are no other tellers on duty. As signs and auspices go, it has a fair amount of value. Somewhere there’s party workers desperate to get out their vote, and limited resources are clearly being stretched.

British election days are quite unique. There remains an old-fashioned, quite sweet historic nature to them. The stubby pencils, the school halls, the elderly married couples walking hand-in-hand to do their duty. The mood of the nation is highly tense, predictions for results are pretty pointless fingers-in-the-wind. It’s the greatest game show in the world. For all the tedious hours spent sitting on plastic chairs in empty halls, I wouldn’t change it for the world.

BNP – streetsmart, media savvy, and pathetic

Saying the BNP is a racist group is as obvious as observing the sun is hot. More needs to be done to point out their economic policies, as thin as rice paper. Their education policies are divisive and destructive. How proud will Britain stand as an isolated nation stripped of doctors, teachers, chefs, carers, all stripped of their lives through the deluded prejudice of shallow fools in shoddy suits? Economic, political, and cultural suicide will flow from this Monday, a date when it seems sadly inevitable that the far-right extremists will be sent to represent the United Kingdom in the European Parliament.

Playing the race card is easy, it’s how the BNP loves its rivals to perform. They have been known to talk about council tax, litter collection and speed humps just to underline how everybody else is blabbing about skin colour. The problem is falling into this trap, a clever but easily beatable ploy from the barely reformed knuckledraggers. Corruption in modern day politics may get media attention, but the track record of some BNP members is its own brand of scandal – violent crime to name just one.

A country whose language is living proof of the benefits and product of integration and immigration should not have, waving a Union Flag at a massive cost, representatives from an extreme and racist organisation. A country where music and fashion shows the results of integration cannot allow the isolationist ignorance of the BNP to flourish. They have learnt how to make headlines, what to say on the doors to mask their real agendas, but ultimately retain their pathetic and baseless offensive racism.

In 2008, Richard Barnbrook was lifted to the highest elected position of any BNP member when 130,714 votes took him into City Hall as a member of the Greater London Assembly. One of twenty-five members who ultimately keep checks and balances on Mayor Boris Johnston. However Barnbrook acts the consequences are quite clear – his election gives credence to an outfit without credibility. His election was the result of a particular brand of disquiet with the political establishment; clearly the current climate has fed their particular fire. Ordinary people know how the BNP hide behind words polished far more than any cynical member of Westminster’s club. Enough people need to turn out on June 4th to give weight to their disquiet, to allow democracy to return to a stable footing.

130,714 is a figure nowhere near enough to award the party of Nick Griffin a seat in Brussels. The North West England region is a target for them, with Mr Griffin at the very top; in 2004, the BNP failed to get a seat with 134,959 votes. There are a lot of people between Carlisle and Crewe who feel the only party who represent “none of the above” is the group whose policies would ultimately create a Britain which has never existed. Such ignorance of the island nature of this country is their most pathetic characteristic of all. For the good of long-term growth in the UK, one tiny event must be carried out which will take no more time than writing out an email, a status update, a ‘tweet’. Vote for change, the environment, cohesion. Vote against the pathetic. Vote against the BNP.