The weekend debate: Is there nothing left to vote for?

Here’s your starter for ten in our weekend slot where we throw up an idea or thought for debate…

Over on the BBC, Noel Gallagher has been talking about the last election and attempting to explain why he almost didn’t vote at all. In the end he voted for the Pirate Party because “there’s nothing cooler than a pirate”.

He went on to say:

 The Labour Party have managed, proved themselves to be just as sleazy and horrible as we all know the Conservatives are. There’s nothing left to vote for anymore.

Now as Liberal Democrats we know there’s an alternative but with declining party membership, rises in single-issue campaigns and the apathy seen for things like the AV referendum, are there big groups of people out there who just aren’t being represented by the political classes anymore? Who are they? And what can we do for this silent (and not so silent) majority?

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • We voted for no increase in student fees. We voted for an in/out referendum on Europe. What would you like us to vote for next?

  • John Bennett 22nd Oct '11 - 9:50am

    It’s a problem that the Lib Dems would do well to consider. Joining the coalition, rather than offering supply and confidence, was an assertion that (most) Lib Dem MPs favoured the Executive over the Legislature, and that’s not my view.

    What we might get is the English version of the Tea Party – the Beer Party – populist xenophobic (perhaps not racist) and celebrity led. Again, not my choice.

    My own answer would have to be Green, although if my former Lib Dem MP, sadly defeated in 2010, stands again, then I’ll still vote for her.

  • Supply and confidence would have meant a short period of unrestrained Toryism and probably a diminished Lib Dem vote.

  • are there big groups of people out there who just aren’t being represented by the political classes anymore? Who are they?

    Students, academics, nurses, doctors and NHS employees are certainly no longer represented by either of the parties in the coalition despite pre-election pledges and manifesto promises.

    Then we have the people disproportionately affected by cuts and vilified by the right wing press, the unemployed, those on low income, on housing benefit and the disabled.

    Perhaps somebody on LDV could address why the Lib Dems abandoned the views of over half its voters (based on consistent polling) upon entering government?

  • I know exactly how Mr Gallagher feels.

  • @ Ed – indeed, supply and confidence would have been a good move if there were already fixed-term parliaments.

  • John Bennett 22nd Oct '11 - 1:20pm

    Coalition seems to have meant a long period of barely restrained Toryism and a certainly diminished Lib Dem vote. Of course that is merely the view of a Lib Dem voter, and one that is unlikely to be shared by Lib Dem party members.

  • @ Julian – in 2010 about 3x as many people voted for £15,000 fees as voted for them to stay the same or be abolished, though.

    Therein I think lies the problem with a wider cultural demand for instant gratification, with people recognising it’s fair and timely that you end up voting for something again a whole five years later if your side of the argument lost the previous time.

  • @ John sadly due to the lack of a portal into a parallel world where the Tories got a majority of 40, you don’t get to see plainly the differences that coalition meant day to day

  • Daniel Henry 22nd Oct '11 - 1:29pm

    Which election did he vote Pirate in? The general or the local elections? Do pirates stand in local elections?

    If it was the general then that means he didn’t even trust us at the height of Cleggamania, even before coalition compromise cost us support.

  • Jen, when was the referendum on tuition fees?

    People for vote for political parties for complex reasons, and not always because they are in full agreement with their manifesto., However, the Liberal Democrats, unlike the other parties, campaigned specifically in student areas with a pledge, made outside of the manifesto, to vote again tuition fees.

  • Jenny Barnes 22nd Oct '11 - 3:15pm

    When I listen to the Danny Alexanders, Cleggs, and other Orange bookers, what I hear is “free”-market neo liberals. Startlingly like the Tories and Labour as has been experienced over the last 30 odd years. So in what sense are the LDs an “alternative”? There are some great policy motions all about applehoods and motherpie, but when it comes to the crunch, we’ll have socialised capitalist losses for lunch…

  • Emsworthian 22nd Oct '11 - 6:37pm

    Like most people I did not vote for a coalition but that’s what tthe polticians decided. I don’t have to go along with it because somebody says there in no alternative. To big it up that people are sort of pleased the Lib Dems are there to restrain the Tories is pure Lewis Carroll stuff.

  • If Noel Gallagher voted for the Pirate Party he was voting against his own self-interest as a musician, so either he’s got so much money that he doesn’t care, or he’s daft.

  • @Daniel Henry. The LibDems did lose support after the general election, this was the result of decisions and policy changes the LibDems chose to make. Nobody and nothing was forced upon them. With respect, I am bound to say that the voters who withdrew their support for you at that time do not describe your Party’s actions with as benevolent a word as “compromise”. It is high time that LibDems really did begin to understand this. Perhaps after the next election……..?

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Oct '11 - 7:15pm

    @tonyhill: Or perhaps he doesn’t believe that grossly inflated copyright law benefits musicians as much as the big record labels.

  • Alex Macfie 22nd Oct '11 - 7:17pm

    Yes, the Pirate Party does stand in local elections, although it is difficult to see the point in it doing so.

  • There is a certain symbiosis between musicians and record companies Alex. I don’t actually mind successful musicians losing potential money as a result of illegal downloads because a) there comes a point when they are rich enough anyway; and b) if it makes them concentrate on performance as a way of earning money that can only be a good thing. Unfortunately, though, film does not fall into the same category, nor does the printed word, and illegal downloads in these areas will increasingly harm creativity.

  • Matthew Harris 23rd Oct '11 - 8:50am

    When I was a kid (I was born in 1971), television (and the VCR) was thought to be killing cinema-going in Britain. Then along came the multiplexes, the ‘event movie’ and better refreshments, and cinema-going was massively revived in commercial terms. Could something similar happen for politics, and party politics in particular?

  • “Now as Liberal Democrats we know there’s an alternative …”

    Unless some way can be found of projecting a clear distinction between Lib Dem policies and the reluctant compromises the party has made with the Conservatives, the Lib Dems won’t be seen as an alternative at all.

    I think at present the public perceives the coalition very much as a single political entity, with a common set of policies, and with all its members nodding whenever the Prime Minister speaks, and baying with one voice when the Prime Minister attacks his opponents.

  • David Allen 23rd Oct '11 - 6:30pm

    Maybe the justification for Mr Gallagher’s appalling apathy is that we all gave him a lot to be apathetic about!

  • “There is a fundamental problem at the moment in that there is not much that any political party can deliver on given the economic disaster that is fast approaching us.”

    Well, if a disaster is approaching us, perhaps that’s an indication that there’s something wrong with the unanimous approach that all the parties have been offering us over the last few years. Maybe someone should offer an alternative? That way there might be a point in voting.

  • “My impression of Noel Gallagher from Question Time was that he was only there because he is a celebrity. That he has almost no interest in politics, and gave very little thought to how he would vote at the last election.”
    For a start, Noel Gallagher has never appeared on ‘Question Time’, so George Kendall’s impression only adds to his misapprehension of why the singer finds politics a waste of time. Gallagher’s comments on the cause and significance of the recent riots and his remedies for social cohesion are simple but apparently beyond the grasp of grandstanding political tribes.

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