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" Vote for me........."

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" Vote for me.......... I'm cute! "

On the political front, I go 'legit' - my first foray into 'conventional' politics - the South Glamorgan County Council Elections of May, 1973. (Well, I though chucking eggs at 'class enemies' of the proletariat had got so passť by then!).
I was standing in the Grangetown ward.
If you look slightly to the right, you'll see the result for the Plasnewydd ward as well. The P Richards standing there for Plaid Cymru was another former Cardiff High School pupil who I knew at the time I was there, but only as a prefect. He was the - to us - very intimidating 'Tich' Richards, who scared the pants off us 1st and 2nd formers. Even though he was small in stature (though bigger than I was, even now), he had a voice you could have heard in Bristol when he shouted at us, which was often! Was a barrister at this time. Now (2002) a circuit judge. How appropriate. I bet the defendants have no difficulty hearing him in court!

This was the Western Mail's comment on my campaign. 'Bottom of the poll' indeed! I CAME THIRD, behind Labour and Tory. That's no disgrace.
And as for 'managed to obtain 454 votes....' what a bloody cheek! Look at the percentage of the poll I got! A successful Labour candidate got 1401 votes, the Tories polled 968, I polled 454 - that's over 16%!  And I didn't do any canvassing (or maybe perhaps that's why!) And I was a 'fringe' candidate! (And they don't come any 'fringer' than me, I can tell you!)
Over 16% of the vote is a record for a 'fringe' candidate, and it's a record that is still unbroken almost 30 years later, and it will never ever be broken!
Trouble was, I never knew when to leave well alone, and in my subsequent Parliamentary attempt in 1979, I wasn't able to repeat my success, as you can see below.

This is from page 274 of ' British Parliamentary Election Results 1974-1983 ' compiled and edited by FWS Craig published in 1984 by Parliamentary Research Services of Chichester, ISBN 0-900178-23-X.
As usual, they got it wrong. I didn't campaign to legalise prostitution. It already is legal. What is being referred to here was a policy of mine to legalise brothels. And why not! That would soon end the public order 'kerb-crawling' problem. Who needs to do that when you can look up the telephone number of your nearest 'establishment' in the 'Yellow Pages' (under 'B'), book a suitable lady (or gentleman! I'm not prejudiced!) and time, and drive there, no one in either neighbourhood any the wiser. 'Let your fingers do the kerb-crawling' as it were!
And don't get the wrong idea about my campaign to legalise cannabis. I'm not into drug-taking. I'm into FREEDOM! Personally, I've never even smoked tobacco. (Apart that is from a quick drag of a shared 'fag' over the 'Taff' when I was 13. Was like having a red-hot poker stuck down me lungs. I thought to myself " And people are supposed to LIKE this? Are you kidding? " and I never smoked one since.) But if OTHER PEOPLE want to do so, well, that's their bag. It's never been mine. Just say "NO". You know it makes sense. (Seems I'm very 'conservative' for a 'libertarian', but there is just as much 'freedom' in saying 'no' as 'yes'.)
Pat Arrowsmith. What can one say about her. A living legend in dissident politics in Britain. I felt honoured to meet her at the 'count', even though she upstaged me and stole my thunder, BIG TIME! Did anyone catch it on the 'box' at the time?
And what about that election count? Weird!
Pat spent most of it flaked out on a chair, either exhausted, or drunk (possibly both! She'd been swigging something from a hip flask for some time before.)
The place at the time was crawling with Special Branch. Just before she flaked out, me and her were having a little chat in a corner of the room - very busy places, election counts, people everywhere, so I thought nothing of this tall guy sitting a couple of feet away. But she broke off suddenly. " 'Scuse me a minute" she says to me. She then turns to this guy and says "And which party do you represent?" Said it a couple of times to him in fact. She got no response. He just stared blindly into space. The bastard was SB (or possibly MI5), put there to spy on her! Listening to our every word, he was. She sussed him out straight away. So much for living in a 'liberal democracy'!

The 'democratic deficit'.


I applied for a job recently, in the electoral services department of a Local Authority. One of the tasks the application form asked for was a short submission as to what could be done to increase voter 'turnout', which has been declining markedly for years. Rising to this challenge, I knocked out this little tome, unusually for me, quite quickly - half an hour. Although I didn't get the job, it is, I think, worth recording.  There's great wisdom here, for those with eyes to see!


" Application submission - the 'Democratic Deficit'.


I am afraid there is nothing that can be done to significantly increase turnout in elections, short of using any money available for that purpose on free lottery tickets to 'bribe' voters to turn up. Anyone that thinks otherwise has completely misinterpreted exactly what is going on, I think.


Changing the ways people can vote does not address the fundamental problem - why bother to vote anyway? Why indeed.


It does not affect decision making - we are asked to vote for individuals, not policies; such individuals being representatives, not delegates; party 'hacks', not men of principle. Furthermore, the ever increasing power of the non-democratically appointed executive arm of government, from the overruling by the relevant Secretary of State of previously made local planning decisions to declaring war on Iraq, makes such elections a side show - an irrelevance. Democratic accountability of the executive is a joke. That's why the aggrieved these days have more success by bypassing the electoral process completely and running straight to the courts via judicial review proceedings - and who could blame them.


The 'first past the post' system means that most people's votes elect no one, and most people, as 'Alf Garnett' once pointed out, remain poor under any elected government.


The electoral system itself is so expensive, only the rich have any effective clout and can really participate. This leaves the choice of party and candidates somewhat limited - a choice between 'Tweedledum' and 'Tweedledumber', the recent Presidential election between Bush and Gore being an excellent example. (I'm still trying to figure out who 'won' that one!). For most people, that choice is no choice at all, so why bother?


Much of what happens these days is outside the fiat of the democratic process anyway - when a major local employer decides to close down, the politicians may, and do, huff and puff, but they are powerless to do anything about it.


But the major reason, I think, why there is so much disillusionment with the electoral process is this. History is repeating itself. People are now deserting the polling stations for the same reason that in a previous generation the people deserted the churches - they have realised that the politicians, like the clerics before them, don't have the answers anymore (did they ever?) or any better ideas than anyone else. The people now see that our 'Emperors' have no clothes.


This isn't pessimism, but realism.  "



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Good morning!