Vote to Abstain

I wasn’t going to write anything about the election this year. But then I had a conversation with a family member about it before seeing something on TV which frankly threw me into hysterical despair.

Firstly, I do think prisoners should have the right to vote. The fact is, parliament should reflect society and if prisoners constitute a big enough proportion of society to make a difference to an election result, even in one constituency, then they should be represented. If they don’t represent a big enough proportion, then there’s nothing to lose by letting us vote anyway. That said, if I could vote, I wouldn’t. On a personal level I don’t want the right to vote, I want the right to abstain from voting on the grounds that I don’t want to support anyone who has thrown their hat in that particular ring.

What I can say is that if I absolutely had to vote, I would vote Conservative (despite hating them passionately) because if you look back across the last century, prison conditions do become harsher under Tory governments, but parole rates also rise. Conversely, Labour governments tend to improve prison conditions but reduce rates of release. Personally, I’d rather spend a short time in a harsh prison than a long time in a cushy one. However, that does not mean I think Conservatives are good news. They may well be my best chance of getting out, but I also think they will probably break society irreversibly. Definitely not good news.

Of the three biggest parties in Britain, I think the Lib Dems are the best bet generally. But something Nick Clegg said himself actually highlights exactly why I wouldn’t vote for them. He said that, in the event of a hung parliament, the Lib Dems would bring a heart to a Conservative led coalition, or a brain to a Labour led one. However, in making this comparison with the Wizard of Oz he misses something. If the Tories are missing a heart, and Labour are missing a brain, then the Lib Dems are missing courage. They may well bring a heart and a brain to the table, but that particularly cowardly lion simply doesn’t have the courage to use them. The fact that they reneged on so many promises after going into coalition with the Conservatives in 2010, and that Nick Clegg has looked consistently intimidated by David Cameron over the past five years, just goes to show that their heart and brain simply aren’t enough. The Lib Dems are just too yellow.

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