How Do We Vote For A Prime Minister?
With many newcomers to the voting system, it would be easy to misunderstand how the voting system works and how we elect a Prime Minister in the UK.
I’ve noticed recently that a lot of people are under a false impression about how we select the person who runs the country. This false impression has been propagated by the print and TV media that asks unhelpful questions such as:
“If you were to vote tomorrow, who would you vote to run the country?”
Under the current electoral system, which has been in place for many, many years, we do not elect a prime minister. We do not elect the person who runs the country.
We only vote for our local member of parliament then, the party with the most members tries to form a government and the leader of that party is put forward to be Prime Minister.
Whatever, It’s The Same Thing!
No, it really isn’t! We all think it is but it really isn’t! In recent years, especially with the advent of social media, political parties market themselves with their leader so it is easy to think that when you vote in a general election you are voting for who you want to be Prime Minister.
And that is the problem. How many of us take the trouble to look at the candidates who run for MP in our local area? This might be why we have so many twats in the House of Commons these days.
It’s easy if you live in a constituency that has a ‘face’ as MP. If you live in Uxbridge you have Boris. You either like him or you don’t so the choice is relatively simple but say you live somewhere where you MP has a low profile.
What if your MP isn’t in the cabinet/shadow cabinet, guests on Question Time or Have I Got News For You? Maybe your MP doesn’t have a lot of charisma but does their job well, how would you know?
It is undeniably a good thing the younger generation is getting involved in politics but I get the impression they don’t have a clue what to do with their vote. They see a headline like “Labour Will Abolish Tuition Fees” and that’s where their x is going!
But wait. The Labour leader was also a supporter of Brexit so how does that square for all the students who want to have free education and stay in the EU?
See how it gets confusing? But it can get worse!
How Can It Get Worse?
Let’s look at some alternatives which are real-life problems for people living in the UK.
You voted Brexit but have historically been a Labour voter. Jeremy Corbyn is a Eurosceptic and says he is committed to leaving the EU. However, your local Labour candidate supports remaining in the EU. Who do you vote for?
You voted to remain in the EU and have been historically a Conservative voter. The Liberal Democrats are the only party of the ‘big 3’ to commit to remaining in the EU. The LD candidate needs a 25,000 swing to win the seat. The Labour and Conservative candidates are both Brexiteers. Who do you vote for?
As I described earlier, you want to remain in the EU but you want tuition fees to be scrapped. Unfortunately, Jeremy Corbyn is committed to leaving the EU and your local Labour candidate also is committed to leaving the EU. Who do you vote for?
The System Doesn’t Work
In Scenario 1, you’d be happy for Labour to win the election and for Corbyn to become Prime Minister. However, in doing so you’d be putting an MP into the house who will be acting against your best interests.
In Scenario 2, your vote would be pretty much wasted. Voting Conservative will be against your interests if you wanted to remain in the EU as would voting Labour. In both cases, you’d be putting an MP into the Commons who will be actively furthering the cause which you dislike. Voting for the Liberal Democrats would be pointless and would be little more than a protest vote.
In Scenario 3, if you voted for Labour, as countless students did in the last election, then you are voting to save yourself £9,000 a year in tuition fees but ultimately (in the words of the remainers) you’ll be destroying your future because they are committed to taking us out of the EU.
But That Isn’t Real Life… Is It?
Yes, it is. Students literally voted in their droves to get Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10 because they want tuition fees abolished. They didn’t understand that they were basically turkeys voting for Christmas because he fully supports leaving the EU as he is a Eurosceptic.
Why didn’t the students all vote Liberal Democrat instead? They want to remain in the EU and scrap tuition fees. Funny that!
What about Richmond? The borough voted to remain in the European Union in the referendum yet at the last election they voted to elect Zac Goldsmith, a Conservative Brexiteer, as their MP. How do the two things square?
You can see the confusion.
Any Other Examples?
Yes, I’ve saved the best for last!
A good friend of mine who has just turned 70 has been a lifelong Labour voter. He has been a trade unionist his whole life and the thought of voting for anyone other than Labour would send him into a frenzy.
He is a staunch supporter of all things European Union and is actively against us leaving the EU, even at this stage in the proceedings. To add to this he totally dislikes Jeremy Corbyn!
I had many conversations with him where he told me he felt Corbyn would make Labour unelectable in his lifetime, how Corbyn’s politics were old fashioned and so on. He basically bought into all the propaganda that the Blairites had been spreading about Corbyn.
I gently ribbed him that he needed to vote Liberal Democrat because they are committed to remaining in the EU and because he hated Corbyn so much.
No! He refused point blank! Historical voters make me laugh because they blindly vote for their party.
“Rubbish!” He said. “I vote for my local candidate and my local Labour MP does a marvellous job for us. She’ll get my vote!”
I asked him why he wouldn’t vote for the Liberal Democrats because they would keep Britain in the EU. Furthermore, he disliked Jeremy Corbyn so much.
In a way he was correct. He voted, locally, for the candidate he felt best suited his needs, not for the leader of the party she represented. You know and I know it amounted to the same thing.
Oh, after the election my friend changed his tune and now thinks the sun shines out of Jeremy Corbyn’s arse just because he ‘almost’ won. Nothing else changed, just that his policies were not as unpopular as my friend had been led to believe.
That Isn’t Reality Though, Is It?
No. If there was a party leader I really disliked I could never bring myself to vote for the local candidate. I really disliked Tim Farron and there was no way I could have voted for his party even if he promised me the world.
How many of you reading this could bring yourself to support a friend knowing that someone you disliked would get a brilliant job as a result?
How many of you would not support a friend if you knew someone you disliked would get the sack?
The Moral of The Story Is?
Life is about compromises. We compromise in relationships, in our work life and in the causes we vote for.
Nothing is going to be good for us 100%. We just have to decide what is most important for us and to pick our battles.
I make no bones about it, I voted to leave the European Union and I voted Labour in the last election. The single most important policy for me is Brexit.
The students voted Labour only for them to admit they would not have wiped out their debts retroactively. Something they thought would happen.
That aside, I would have thought remaining in the EU would be more important to them than £36,000 (£9,000×4 years) because of the opportunities they claim they would lose.
It just goes to show that at the end of the day it is money that decides where we vote and nothing else.