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Accidental votes of an anarchist

Dear Subcomandauntie, I have a dilemma. As an anarchist, I have no time for voting in elections, but I really don't want the BNP to get in where I live in London. Should I vote even though it would only legitimise the corrupt parliamentary tyranny? And if so, who should I vote for? Yours, An agitated agitator

June 1, 2004
2 min read

Dear Turncoat,

You’ve picked a particularly bad time to start becoming a liberal. This year, London will see the biggest round of elections ever held in the capital. You’re probably not even registered, right? Amateurs…

If you’re serious, then be warned: you’ll have to sell out at least twice. First, there’s the vote for mayor, and it’s good news for anarchists. With Livingstone a dead cert on a winner-takes-all basis, the BNP doesn’t stand a chance. You’re still free to say up yours to the system.

But don’t get comfy. The neo-Nazis are standing a complete slate in the London Assembly election, and they only need 5 per cent of the vote to win a seat. If voter turnout is as low as it was last time (33 per cent), the BNP stands a really good chance of squeezing in. You probably could live with yourself, but could you live with the thugs in suits?

Finally, there’s the European Parliament election. Just 8 per cent of the vote will see the BNP get its first Euro MP.

So, you must vote in the Assembly and European elections. But who gets the dishonour of your inaugural vote? This is where you really will get agitated. Where the BNP stands a realistic chance, you will have to vote for a mainstream party (bar the Tories, of course) to shut it out. Picking a party that doesn’t stand a chance, like George Galloway’s Respect coalition, is a wasted vote. Elsewhere, voting for Greens, Respect or Democratic Socialist Alliance is not a completely useless enterprise.

But Agitated, as a fellow anarchist I have to ask: what are you thinking? Remember, as old man Livingstone says, if voting changed anything, they’d abolish it. Sounds like you need to go back to your “how to be a good anarchist” rulebook before you go over to the dark side.

Red Pepper is an independent, non-profit magazine that puts left politics and culture at the heart of its stories. We think publications should embrace the values of a movement that is unafraid to take a stand, radical yet not dogmatic, and focus on amplifying the voices of the people and activists that make up our movement. If you think so too, please support Red Pepper in continuing our work by becoming a subscriber today.
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