It’s none of your business. How you will vote is none of my business. This country cannot proceed along any lines that make sense or promise hope unless we can all get along no matter how we vote and unless we respect the primacy of the secret ballot. Having said which, open and free discussion of the people, parties and policies up for consideration is all part of democracy too.
What Right Have I to Blog?
Should I even be writing this blog? In a free country under the new dispensation of social networking is my ‘influence’ so disproportionate that for me to be revealing my voting intentions (which I am not quite going to do, by the way) in some sense inimical to the democratic spirit? I have about a million and a half Twitter followers, most of them I should think of voting age. If I changed the mind of even 1% of them would I somehow be cheating?
There are arguments for and against my involvement at such a level. One argument is that columnists in newspapers who have absolutely no more legitimacy in terms of influence, education, knowledge, understanding or right to persuade and interfere than I have are attempting to do so every day and with far more vitriol, conviction and absolutism than I would ever dare to exhibit. Which will not stop them from having a go at me were I to presume to pop my head above the parapet and suggest a voting preference. The screams of “Labour Lovie!” or “Lib Dem Lovie!” would be heard from here to hell. ‘It’s all very well for a pampered celebrity to parade his so-called caring credentials …’ blah-di-blah-di-bleugh. In ideological wars of this nature the first casualties are consideration, mutual respect, sense, proportion and dignity. Fair enough, one must be tough I suppose, although I’d much rather not be.
Another argument to propel me to write may be that the very weight of Twitter followers and website traffic behind me ought to bring with it some sense of civic duty. Maybe, there is a chance at least, this election matters. I don’t question whether or not it matters to the candidates, of course it does, but whether it matters more than most historically, socially and individually to us, as Britons. If this election does matter then surely my ignoring it would put me in the position of one of those rather silly people who is content to jeer from the sidelines, ‘they’re all the same anyway’ and ‘it makes no difference’ – which believe me I understand, for we are all tempted to be one of those. ‘Lord, what fools these voters be,’ we say to ourselves, if we are the kind of pompous Shakespeare quoting arse that I am at any rate, ‘you won’t catch me committing myself or risking a vote, much better for me to rely on the acuity of my vision which sees through the lot of them.’ Believe me, I do understand how tempting that position is. But I think we all know, in the innermost chambers of our heart, that such a position is unworthy of us.
The nailing of my colours to the mast might just encourage some of you to vote. I really do not mind how you vote, but I think you should. The ‘I can’t make a difference’ assertion is neither true, nor impressive, nor amusing, nor worthy, nor dignified. It is lazy, cowardly and inane. In Australia and some other countries voting is compulsory. Maybe it should be here too. At the very least the poverty and inadequacy of my arguments or assertions may at least propel you to the voting booth to vote against everything I believe. That at least would be something.
To sum up. What business do I have to ventilate my psephological dispositions for the Great Choosing that will take place on Thursday? Do I think that my electoral intentions are relevant, important, worth more than anyone else’s, of national interest? None of the above. On the other hand, I have been approached by all three major parties who have sensed that I might be more of a floater (in every sense of that unfortunate epithet, I suspect) than I ever was in previous general elections. And on the other other hand some of my Twitter followers seem to think that my coyness in refusing to reveal my intentions amounts to a kind of cowardice or failure of citizenship. So I have decided to write this piece of bloggage in the hope that it will at least acquit me of apathy or irresponsibility. But I will preface it now with this insistent motto: do not let anything I say influence you. Vote with your heart, vote with your head, vote with your gut: your heart, your head, your gut – no one’s else. I just hope you have courage, style and charm enough not to hate me for what I am about to say, for I assure you I will not hate you if you say the exact opposite. Trollers, resentful maniacs, weirdos and abusive beasts can stop reading now, I have no interest in horrible and offensive meanness of spirit. You must believe me when I say that I have never hated any fellow countryman or woman because of how they vote or how they express their voting intention.