I find it incredible that people still talk about a ‘wasted vote’. The only wasted vote is one that is not cast; literally wasted and non-existent. What’s the point of not voting? Democracy is the best system we have; not perfect, but the best workable model. Spoil your ballot paper if you must; or better still, if no party fits your world view, start your own; or convince your local candidate to take on your ideas and policies. Not voting just means you don’t have the right to have a say. Idiots.
A vote is saying what you think, what you believe in. It’s not asking you what you don’t believe in: ie a vote against a particular party. Tactical voting might be understandable when it comes to choosing the lesser of two evils; however I think this idea has bred the kind of negative politics we have at the moment. We complain that the main parties don’t seem to have a cohesive central philosophy, that they are simply chasing votes and crowbarring in random policies, making a piecemeal manifesto, rather than a strong central standpoint from which all other policies will naturally evolve. But if everyone did in fact vote for the candidate & party that they really did identify with, and for policies that they really would like to see happen – imagine that!
Perhaps the reason many people tend not to vote for the smaller parties they really believe in isn’t always because of tactics and trying to keep one major party out: perhaps it’s because we want to feel that our voice is being heard, and that voting for a likely winner means our voice is heard. But that’s a bit skew-whiff – either our 1 vote counts, in which case you can vote for anyone and it will carry the same weight; or it makes little difference to the numbers, in which case you can vote for whoever you want, and voting for a likely winner you don’t really believe in & doesn’t really need your vote is senseless.
When it comes to the thousands or people voting, your 1 vote might not count for very much in terms of the numbers returned – but the real difference is in the voter themselves. Of all the parties the Green Party is probably the most closely allied to my core beliefs: therefore, if I want a say, I should of course vote Green. If I vote for a larger party, that has some similarities with my beliefs, but many differences (such as not putting the environment paramount, from which a good health service, education, equality etc naturally follows), I can’t get too cross when they don’t always act in the way I’d like.
Perhaps another reason people tend not to vote for what they truly believe in is because they are scared: scared that if their desired party were to gain power, they would make mistakes and be ineffective, as all previous governments have been. Perhaps they think it’s better to have the moral high ground, and never put these beliefs to a practical test. But this is of course nonsense. I do have a lot of sympathy with the Lib Dems, since they were put in this position in the last election – compromising principles, in order to be pragmatic, and get at least some of the policies into legislation. Thanks to them, I now have a higher personal tax allowance, for example; which when on a grower’s income, is invaluable. But I think as voters we really do need to be brave, vote for what we truly belive in, and be prepared for our favoured candidates if elected to make mistakes and get it wrong; but gain experience and hopefully get some things right too. At least if we vote for what we really believe in, we then have the right to get honestly frustrated at whoever is in government. If you vote for anyone else, you forfeit that right, since you have been trying to play the system as much as the politicians.