voting, universal suffrage
Sif

Universal Suffrage…It Ain’t All That

In the centenary year since some women (those over 30 years of age and registered property owners) first got the vote, I thought it was the perfect time to discuss our electoral system.

As a point of interest that seems to have been buried under the celebration of women  getting the vote, prior to 1918 not all men were allowed to vote either and so ‘The Representation of the People Act 1918’ also enabled all men over 21 to vote for the first time whether they owned property or not. There are a few other caveats that came with the bill but that’s the broad sense of it. It would be a further ten years before women could vote on equal terms with men in the UK and the last major change to the electoral system was in 1969 when the voting age was dropped from 21 to 18 (A change that could be deemed a mistake as modern science has come to the conclusion that the human brain is not fully developed until 25-26 years of age and probably much older in males…before all you girls say it). That’s, near as spit, half a century since the last shake-up of the democratic process, surely another look at it is long overdue.

For the basis of this discourse I shall be dealing solely with the UK and its voting system on account of it is the one I am most familiar with and have some chance of understanding to any degree. For example, the nuances of the US of A’s ‘Electoral Colleges’ are a mystery to me and I suspect to some ‘Mericans too. I also fully understand there are other political systems employed around the world, many of which fall short of equality and fairness due to swathes of the population not being allowed to vote on social status or religious grounds or due to the fact the bloke (it’s usually a bloke) in charge is the one with all the guns and none of the willingness to share the toys with anyone else. That’s right, I am going to be bitchin’ about a social structure that is far, far better than some in the world have to deal with but you’re going to have to, as popular parlance once had it, deal with it.

Universal suffrage has gone too far, it is far too universal. How a country is run, its politics, are too important for every Tom, Dick and Bigger Dick to have a say on how it should be done. I can guess this idea is not proving popular already, I can hear your ‘Harrumphing’ but bear with me because I have a feeling you’ll be right on-board with me before we reach the last full stop of this article. Take a breath and in your mind run through the people you know; family, friends, work colleagues, that bloke you overheard in the pub voicing his opinions, can you tell me, hand on heart, there is not one person you wouldn’t trust with something important to you? A puppy? A loved one? Your cash? The ability to make a logical, reasoned decision on which political party or leader to vote for? See, despite your deepest desire to be liberal and inclusive, I bet you have selected at least one person not worthy of your confidence. A miscreant. A rogue. An absolute bounder. Let’s take this newly admitted and shameful revelation (or maybe it’s not new and it doesn’t fill you with shame) and asks ourselves do we want these people dictating how our life should be run? Do we want their standards to be the ones we have to live by? I’m sure we all agree, that we most certainly do not…said in our best Edwardian governess voice. What I am suggesting to tackle this problem is the removal of the right to vote and the introduction of the right to apply for the right to vote.

It will be a simple system of question answering that will determine if you have the ability to make a contribution to the way society is formed for the betterment of all. The application to vote shall be open to everyone over the age of 18 (I want to say over 40 really but I am making the effort to override my own prejudices) and will not be prejudiced with any other criteria needing to be adhered to.

This is a work in progress and I am open to any amendments or additional questions you would like to see as I want this to be the most democratic filtering and inclusion (exclusion, if you’re a glass half empty type) system possible with little or no stress involved in the process. Questions will be simple, either ‘Yes or No’ or multiple choice in format and no one will be required to complete anything like a 10,000 word essay on political reform although volunteering one if you can’t resist the urge to do so could hinder your application.

Example questions follow now…

Q1: ‘Love Island’

  • I am aware of it but would rather be blinded than watch it.
  • I watched it once but never again.
  • I regularly watch it.
  • It is my life and I can’t stop talking about it.

Q2: I will only ever vote for one political party and never change my mind for any reason; even if the party is completely different from the entity my parents always voted for and has U-turned on its historical policies wholesale.

YES / NO

Q3: I am an older person, but not too old, and as such my endorsement is more important than a young thug’s, or a coffin dodger’s, and should be worth two or three votes.

YES / NO

Q4. Does the act of watching a sporting event make you want to declare war on a particular city, country or even an individual wearing a different colour scarf than you?

YES / NO

Q5. I think reality TV is…

  • Real
  • Scripted bollocks
  • The way I want to live
  • How all TV programmes should be made

Q6. I think the most trustworthy news outlet is…

  • The BBC
  • Sky
  • The Newspapers and/or internet
  • None of the above

Q7. Anyone who has a different opinion on the way to solve a social, economic or political problem than me is ‘Hitler’ and I would say so on Twitter in CAPITALS.

YES / NO

Q8. I think the world is…

  • Flat
  • Run by lizard people
  • Indifferent to our presence
  • Mine to rule

Q9. I can’t be arsed to travel a mile or so to the polling station to execute a right gained for me by the sacrifice of others in the past.

YES / NO

Q 10. I take my final decision on who to vote for from…

A) My Facebook friends’ shared and excited rantings!!!!!!!!!

B) The Paxman pixie who lives in my head

C) A cynical, yet hopeful, position

D) My pet’s horoscope for that day

That’s a small and limited example of the form of questions that would be employed to weed out those not worthy to vote in the new, infallible system; with applicants’ answers being put through a sophisticated psychometric algorithm (or a gang of hungover students can check them, whichever is cheaper) to determine whether they are a citizen suitably qualified to determine the country’s future or a complete nob-end as unfit to vote as a beached squid.

Yes, loading of the questions could produce the kind of authorised voter that would favour one side of politics over another and yes, intellectual snobbery could seep into the process depending on who set the questions and thus dismiss vast sums of potential voters due to socio-economic factors. Those possibilities would only arise if this system was implemented badly but you have no need to worry on that count because, with some more of my now famed self-sacrificing altruism, it will be my , responsibility to set the questions and a fairer, non-partisan invigilator you could not find. However, I am also a realist and we do live in a capitalist society, therefore I am open to run sponsored questions should the right fee be forthcoming via TBP’s offices. (Cash in envelopes only and placed in the litter bin nearest the coffee machine at precisely 2 a.m.…I say coffee, it’s more of a Jack Daniel’s machine.)

In conclusion, this is a totally new approach of merit-based selection for inclusion in the democratic process, possibly the best step forward in electoral reform since 1928 and I can’t see any barriers to its immediate introduction at all. Maybe you can though and that’s fair enough…but on the other hand, are you a fit enough personage to have your say and vote against its implementation? I very much doubt it.