Whenever, as is happening just now, a small Political Party seems about to get a big result, the Big Parties orate loudly about how a vote for the Small [fill in the name of the small party] Party will be a “wasted vote“. What does this mean?
To me what it means is that the Big Parties have run out of good arguments to stop people voting for this Small Party in embarassingly unsmall numbers, and are instead resorting to a ridiculous argument which they hope will pack a punch despite the fact that it makes no sense whatever.
A large number of people in Britain have just recently realised that Britain is in the process of becoming a small clutch of provinces of a new country, EUrope. They have never wanted this, but until recently they did not notice that it was happening, so they saw no need to vote against it. Now they realise that it is happening, despite all the mendacious protestations of the Big Parties, and a Small Party has stepped forward to enable them to register their disapproval. And depending on how many people vote for the Small Party, the Big Parties will either perhaps change their policy of British provincialism, or definitely not change it. If all they did at elections was announce the winner, like on Oscar night, this “wasted vote” argument might have some force. But as it is, every vote is not only counted, but every total is announced, and scrutinised, and analysed. Any detectable surges of opinion are most definitely taken into account, even if only by the Big Parties concocting some different lies to replace their old ones.
To get more serious, and to prove my point by taking it to an absurd extreme, suppose that UKIP got absolutely no votes at all at the forthcoming elections, local and European. Would this be a result no different from UKIP getting the number they are actually going to get, namely quite a lot? Would that make no difference? You get my point, I hope. And if a large difference in the UKIP vote would definitely have a large consequence, then it surely follows that a small difference (the difference that one voter makes by voting UKIP or not or the case may be) makes a small difference.
It is being argued that more UKIP Members of the EUroParliament will not be able to do anything of consequence there, on account of disbelieving in the place. Nonsense. They will gather reports and anecdotes galore about EUro-ghastliness. They will learn more about how the EUro-system works, and get that much cleverer at fouling it up. Of course they will be able to do things to serve the purposes of themselves and of those who vote for them.
And besides, is a vote for a Big Party any less of a “wasted” vote than for a Small Party? Voting is not betting on a horse in a horse race, where you get actual money back if you back the winner, but nothing if you do not. So, you voted for The Government, did you? Well con bleeding gratulations. Try not to spend it all at once.
More fundamentally, why would voting for what you do believe in, and being counted and seen to have voted for what you believe in, be more of a “waste” than voting for what you do not believe in, merely because what you do not believe in is more likely to win? How in the world is that getting more of what you want?
In short, and not for the first time in my life (or the last time in my life I dare say), I agree with Perry de Havilland.