If, like me, you have a reputation among your friends for being particularly knowledgeable about politics, you probably find that when election time comes they turn to you for advice on how to vote. But while I may have more interest and knowledge in politics than some of my friends, I am not really the sort of person to tell people how they should vote.
Although I make it known that my sympathies lie with the Liberal Democrats (as the latest addition to the sidebar indicates), I don’t push it far. At the end of the day it’s a personal decision that should not be made for someone else.
As such, my friends possibly did not get as much guidance as they were expecting. But they were probably more surprised that I sometimes suggested that they perhaps shouldn’t vote.
I may well offer that sort of advice no matter what seat I was speaking in, but it is particularly well-suited to my constituency of Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. The incumbent here is Gordon Brown. In the 2005 election, he got 58% of the votes, and you would imagine even in the worst case scenario for Labour it is about as safe as seats get. According to the Voter Power Index, the average voter in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath has “the equivalent of 0.009 votes”.
That is one of the reasons why I am actively involved in the Liberal Democrat campaign in neighbouring Dunfermline and West Fife, where the contest is much closer. I have a much greater chance of affecting the outcome there than by casting my vote here.
The statistic that I love to tell my friends is that you are more likely to be killed on your way to the polling station than you are to cast the deciding vote. Bringing up the idea of abstaining is certainly a good excuse to wheel out my dissertation, and I have recommended to some of my friends that they should read it! For one thing, by reading it you can find out the morbid statistic, find out the meaning of ‘rational irrationality’ and more.
I am still madly proud of my dissertation — partly because I find the subject so fascinating. Why do people vote when it is apparently against their interests to do so? If you happen to fancy a read of it, it’s available to download — although I should warn you that it’s all in economics-speak!
I have previously written about the notion that abstaining might be the good option, contrary to received wisdom. The idea has not always been welcomed!