Because I forget stuff. Part of

Note: It appears you must have reached this page by a deep level URL. In general this site is currently down and unmaintained. See here

About This Post

Originally posted May 6 2005 at 18:05 under General. 2 Comments. Trackbacks Disabled.

Paper Butterflies


A photograph of an origami butterfly

An entry in which I discuss why for once I didn’t abstain but actually voted for a major political party, and how that makes me feel far from empowered and more disenfranchised and disliking of the process than ever.

I live in the constituency of the City of York. The bare numbers returned are quite simple to quote:

  1. Hugh Bailey (Labour) 21836 (46.9%)
  2. Clive Booth (Conservative) 11364 (24.4%)
  3. Andrew Waller (Liberal Democrat) 10166 (21.8%)
  4. Andy D’Agorne (Green) 2113 (4.5%)
  5. Richard Jackson (UK Independence Party) 832 (1.8%)
  6. Ken Curran (Independent) 121 (0.3%)
  7. Damien Fleck (Death, Dungeons & Taxes) 93 (0.2%)
  8. Andrew Hinkles (Independent) 72 (0.2%)

There were also 76 “rejected” ballot papers (they never say why…76 is more than Andrew Hinkles achieved; surely some record of why should be released).

[These numbers are based on the BBC report and the local press report. Given the total number of votes and rejected ballets according to the local press however, things don’t quite add up. The total for each candidate is 46597—the turnout the BBC claims, so if you spoilt your ballot paper according to them you didn’t turnout—but with the addition of 76 votes one gets 46673, not the 46687 claimed by the local press]

So Labour held the seat with a 10472 majority, and a turnout of 61.7% (how many of those who didn’t vote couldn’t be bothered, and how many abstained?). I voted for the Liberal Democrat candidate.

And what changed? Why did I suddenly have a change of heart and mind and decide to vote at all? Well, mainly in a desperate attempt to protest against the current incumbent government, more than a desire to see the Liberals in power. They got my vote because of all the parties they have said the most things I agree with (and not too much I fundamentally disagree with). Certainly I much prefer their attitude to civil liberties over Labour’s and the Conservative’s, which was probably the most important issue for me (I don’t want a policeman outside my door, watching, even if I have done nothing wrong). The problem was of course that this is a pretty safe Labour seat. Indeed, “my” party only achieved third place (though they improved much over the last time). And that’s why I feel so sad. I finally exercise my right to vote, as everyone continues to encourage me to do, and all the while I knew, it counted for nothing.

All the power goes to the first past the post candidate. My ballot paper, and those of thousands and thousands of others around the country, may as well flutter in the wind like so many paper butterflies. They are, in effect, meaningless. The figures themselves show how ridiculous the situation is. As I write the results of 635 seats have been declared. Labour have won 355 of those. That’s 55.9% of the power. Yet taking the number of votes overall, they only had 35.7% of the support. Conversely the Liberal Democrats have a mere 62 seats (9.8% of the power), yet overall they held 22.4% of the vote. How can this make any sense? How can the party which almost quarter of the voting population supported end up with less than a fifth of the power of the party who only had 1.5 times the support?? If you want me to vote and support a party I may not fully agree with (I agree with some things, not others—I won’t go into how I should be allowed to express that on a much finer level) then you must make my vote count for something.

Of course the problem is that the electoral system in this country is outdated and inherently unfair. Not only that, but the parties actually able to take power under it will protect that system because of the very fact it gives them a disproportionately large share of the power. Why support something that might be considered fair, along the lines of proportional representation, when it might well cost you your place in government?

In the end this should have been an experience which encouraged me, which resulted in me becoming enamoured with democracy and ready to go to the polling station again. Instead it’s simply served to confirm that the system is as bad as I thought but worse because I’m left with nothing but an empty feeling of slight despair. Will I vote next time? I don’t know. I’ll probably do so if there’s a chance it might keep away the erosion of trial by jury, loss of double jeopardy protection, ID cards and the nanny state. Then again, I might just fold my ballet paper up and throw it into the wind.

Edit/Update: Updated the link to the local press report to point to the more permanent URL. Also fixed some of the English in this post (must proof read more carefully).

For the record the final figures came out with Labour having 256 seats, which equates to 55.1% of the power. That was from 35.2% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats on the other hand had 22.0% of the vote but only 10.4% of the power.

Comments (2):


Thank you for your support, but don’t get mad get even !

I too feel that there is an overpowering case for electoral reform after this election. I was drawn into politics when I was 14 specifically on the issue of a fairer voting system, for without a better voting system we are not going to progress into a better political climate.

Kind regards,

Andrew Waller

Made by Andrew Waller on May 9, 2005 at 23:51


The problem is that this entire process has done nothing other than confirm what I already felt. The system is broken, and it is broken in such a way to ensure it doesn’t get fixed. My vote is therefore not only part of (and I can’t help feel that by implication an acknowledgement of support for) a system I don’t agree with; it is also totally pointless and worthless. It is that feeling of pointlessness that must be overcome (and surely contributes a great deal to the voter “apathy” in this country).

Perhaps I am being too pessimistic and should, as you say, get even but it seems that the “democratic” process does not allow for me to do so. If I were to vote again then it would probably be for the same side, so to speak, but I fear it is unfairly not within their power to convince me that it is a worthwhile exercise. That sounds terribly defeatist but that is part of how the experience has left me.

Made by Ian Scott on May 10, 2005 at 11:42

Trackbacks (0):

Trackback URL:


This Crazy Fool

Dr Ian Scott
Croydon (and Gateshead), United Kingdom
Bullding Services Engineer (EngDesign), PhD in Physics (University of York), football fanatic (Newcastle United), open source enthusiast (mainly Mozilla)

More about me [Disclaimer]

You may subscribe to IMS_Blog using the RSS Feed, the Atom Feed or by email.

Creative Commons License

© Ian Scott. Powered by Movable Type 3.2. This blog uses valid XHTML 1.0 Strict and valid CSS. All times are local UK time. For further details see the IMS_Blog about page.. All my feeds in one.