So, we've had local and European elections recently, and as has become increasingly common with these things (elections that is) that has got me thinking about politics in the UK.
The abysmal turnout in the European elections is indicative of a lack of engagement between politicians and the populace. Occasionally you hear a politician say something along the lines of "we must engage the population more" but rarely do they actually do anything useful about it. The problem, as I see it, is that there is no viable way to express dissent. The electoral system is geared to showing who the people assent to having as a representative. Sure you could abstain, but that is dismissed by the establishment as not caring. You could spoil your ballot, but that appears to be dismissed by the establishment as being too stupid to vote properly. On top of this the system assumes that the winner of the election has the public's approval, so even with the lack of engagement there is no real incentive for the established parties to change the system. Sure UKIP and other fringe parties have eroded some of their power, but not much, and not quickly.
So what can be done? What should be done?
Personally I think we need to add a viable way to show dissent. A "None of the Above" option on the ballot paper. Of course just adding "None of the Above" to the ballot is worthless if it is not given some form of power. It needs to be counted, and it needs to have very real consequences for the candidates who get fewer votes than it. The consequences also need to be sufficient that the big parties can't just buy their way out of it. So financial consequences are out. The only other viable alternative is to bar the candidate from standing at the next election. Or possibly longer. Politicians would then be forced to engage with the people for fear of losing all their power in government.
This does raise an interesting problem however. What happens if "None of the Above" wins? Do we hold a by-election? How would the candidates be chosen? Do we hold a free vote (all registered voters are free to nominate any other registered voters in that ward)? Do we lay down voting rules for the ward for the next term?
Unfortunately these are not easy questions to answer. I would suggest that laying down voting rules such that the particular seat in question votes to oppose any and all changes in the law, but I doubt that would be practical, or free from manipulation.
I don't have all the answers, but then if I did I suspect I'd be much better off, and not ranting about politics on the internet.