Voting is a civic duty, but does it really make a difference? For anyone living outside about sixty marginal constituencies, clearly no. You are more likely to be run over outside the polling station than your vote changing the balance in Parliament.
Even if it did, would that make a difference to how the country is run, since the main parties seem to share so many of the same metropolitan, nannying, spin-ridden presumptions? Well, yes: however much all politicians claim they will cut taxes and improve state services, it is plain that some believe in more state control of our economic and social lives, and others in less.
Nevertheless, what we need is something that none of them promise: a complete overhaul of our political system. It has become a presidential system, though Britain does not have a constitution that can contain presidential power. It has become the Prime Minister and a bunch of unelected party apparatchiks who decide policy. Ministers, the civil service, Parliament, even the courts are elbowed out of the way.
The problem is not how to choose our leaders, but how to restrain them. Parliament used to be there for that purpose, but with 120-odd ministers owing their pay and perks to the Executive, it has become a Downing Street poodle.
If I lived in a marginal seat, I would vote for the strongest Parliamentarian, someone who might hold the Executive to account. Since I live in a ‘safe’ seat, what can I do? Well, I might just ‘spoil’ by ballot paper by writing in a message that all of the candidates will see. That I want a Parliament that represents the people and returns power to us – not the present system of elected dictatorships.