Written for The Green Party | Published 22/05/15 | http://sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2015/04/22/wasted-votes/
We see it so often – regular voters wary of a party they don’t want in power, therefore choosing to vote for their most preferred of the larger parties. On paper, it seems like the most logical decision. Why waste a vote on a smaller party with no chance of gaining power and having to spend another 5 years under a party whose manifesto goes against everything you believe?
While this may make some sense, it is nothing but a quick fix; making the most of a political system in desperate need of a shake-up. Parliament today, generally speaking, offers no real democratic discussion and a total lack of representation of what regular voters actually want and care about. There are simply not enough opposing views and individual voices there to influence Labour and the current Lib-Con government.
UKIP’s rise in the past few years has shown, for better or for worse, just how a small party can begin to influence big party politics and therefore grow as a result. They have managed to make immigration one of the key topics of debate in parliament. The Conservative-led government has adapted their policy to suit this zeitgeist and hold on to voters that may be swayed by Farage. UKIP won’t get into power come May, but they’ve certainly left their mark, and will no doubt get the referendum they’ve demanded for so long.
Imagine this for another party. Imagine if all those potential voters of the Green Party, for example, decided not to worry about wasting their vote and to choose the party they really cared about. It may not happen instantaneously, but it is entirely plausible that the big parties will one day be absorbing the policies of the Greens and other parties too – and that can only be a good thing.
We need broader representation. Democracy is about everybody having a voice – not adapting that voice in fear of the least favourite man getting into power. Whilst the First Past the Post system really does inhibit smaller parties, encouraging voters to vote honestly and not tactically will certainly help give them a voice.