Anarchy in the UK


When's it going to end? When are we going to live?
Something's got to happen now or something's got to give.

Les Miserables

Liberals say we should fewer people to prison; conservatives say we should send more people to prison; nobody asks whether prisons are necessarily the best way of dealing with naughty people.

Labour and Tory argue about whether schools should teach traditional subjects or vocationally useful ones; nobody asks from whence the government's power to set curricula derives.

Old Tories and New Tories spit blood at each other about lowering the age of consent for homosexuals; nobody asks why there are laws regulating people's sexual behaviour in the first place.

Committees argue about different systems of electoral reform; nobody asks whether a talking shop in an old building is the only possible way to run our affairs.

Every time we have an election, parties present brilliant plans to make the country good and happy, but nobody asks what governments are actually for.

I propose, therefore, that at the next election, we should elect Nobody.

Think about it.

In the 80s, Thatcher had real fans; a real following, men with moustaches who thought that Maggie was the best thing since hanging and flogging. It is hard to find anyone who will admit to being positively enthusiastic about Tony Blair. You can find people who voted for him; people who think he was the least bad option and even that he is doing quite a good job, but where is the adulation that ought to come with a landslide majority? It isn't there. I'm not suggesting that anyone prefers Hague or Ashdown. Nobody has a lot of public support.

So why not make Nobody Prime Minister?

A lot of people already vote for Nobody, but under our election system, these votes are discounted. The election in my home constituency of Chipping Barnet was won by the Conservative candidate, with 21,317 votes. In second place was Labour with 20,282 votes. What we are not told is that (granted that the turn out was 70.9%) 20,343 votes were cast for Nobody--only about a thousand less than were cast for the winner. In Bristol West, where I live, 20,676 people voted for Nobody, compared with 20,575 for the Conservative and 22,068 for the winning Labour candidate. Nationwide, 12,482,565 people voted for nobody, compared with 13,530,748 for Labour; or put another way:











This is an astounding figure. It casts doubt, not only on Blair's 'landslide' majority but on the mandate of every government since the war.

Thatcher, Major and Blair all believed that it was their right and duty to re-make the country in their own image: to create a country fit for Yuppies to live in; to re-assert traditional common sense prejudices or to create a society of well-behaved hard-working drones. The question is not whether you agree with their visions. The question is by what authority they did these things and who gave them this authority. What right do you have to impose your "vision" of a new and better Britain on everybody else when the majority of the country (69%!) did not want you to be in charge?

It would take a very small swing at the next election to give Nobody a majority. If this happens--if we all stay at home, and Nobody votes--then the hegemony will have to stand up and take notice. Blair can claim legitimacy for his administration when 30% of the electorate voted for Nobody; but what would happen if 50%, 60%, 80% or 100% put their cross next to Nobody's name? Everybody would know that the election was a farce; that there was no support for the present system; that decisions made by the Prime Minister who got 17 votes had no legitimacy. It is within the bounds of possibility that the Queen would exercise her constitutional right to send for Nobody; it is very likely that Nobody would command a majority in the House of Commons. The main parties would be forced to not merely think of a new way of counting the votes, but to re-consider the whole purpose, function and nature of government. The traditional parties might well collapse; the next election would be fought under a completely different system.

Two objections will immediately be made

1: Many of those who vote for Nobody do so from apathy and inertia; their votes do not represent a serious critique of the present system.

Well, yes. And many of those who voted for Blair do so because Rupert Murdoch told them to; and many of those who vote for Major did so because their father did and his father before him. This, indeed, calls into question the whole idea of electing our leaders by a card-vote. Just how many of those who cast their votes really understand the issues? How many put their cross in the space because they 'have always been Labour men'? Perhaps, indeed, we should interview the electorate and only count the votes of those who can demonstrate a positive preference for and understanding of the party they have chosen. These are just the sort of question which Nobody asks.

2: If I had voted for Nobody at the last election, then Major might have got back in.

This is, surely, another serious indictment of our system: people do not vote for the party they truly believe in, but for the one they think will win. 'I support the beliefs of the Green Party of course; but a vote for the Greens is a wasted vote because, of course, even if I vote for them, no-one else will. Lots of people feel the same way.' If elections are to have any meaning at all, then you must--you are morally bound--to vote for the party you positively believe in, and if, like me, you disagree with the whole system and think all the parties are equally useless then you are obliged to vote for Nobody. A pacifist can't start shooting people just because everybody else does.

When the next election--and all other elections under the present system--are declared void, with Nobody the winner, constitutional reform would be inevitable: not futile, piecemeal reform like abolishing the House of Lords (who cares?) but a serious look at what governments are for and how far their mandate extends.

In the run up to the next election, I intend to speak vigorously on behalf of Nobody; I shall demand my right to appear on Newsnight and put out a party political broardcast. When Paxman says "And who appointed you spokesman?" I shall reply "Nobody did."

In the debate which follows I will suggest that the status of Prime Ministers be greatly reduced; that the idea that they can and should re-make nations in their image be abolished; that their role be re-defined as something akin to a local Mayor; the chairman of an organisation which raises and distributes revenue and co-ordinates things at time of national crisis. And, I'm quite sure, Nobody will listen to me. That's the point. As long as we carry on propping up the present system by voting for parties which we don't agree with, Nobody is going to ask these questions.

10 Reasons to put Nobody in 10 Downing Street

1:Nobody respects the electorate

2:Nobody listens to people's opinions

3:Nobody can abolish crime, sickness and make England great again

4: Nobody understands the economy

4: Nobody really cares about the E.M.U

6: Nobody could have predicted the fall of Communism

7: Nobody knows what's going to happen in the next 10 years

8: Nobody can win an election without the backing of the Sun

9: Nobody can afford to criticise the Queen

10 :Nobody, having once tasted power, will give it up willingly

Nobody will give power to everybody--so everybody should vote for Nobody.