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Spelling It Out

Many people have stated outright that they have lost faith in the democratic system and are no longer participating.

Wednesday, March 6, 2024
4 mins

First Things First

by Les Bertrand

Yesterday we were asking about 'spoiled' ballots and whether or not they could be used as a form of protest. We have been running a Twitter/X poll suggesting some options and inviting others. (The latest state of that poll is at the foot of this page.)

Some of the reaction we've had has been indignant:

Malc Dow


If you spoil your ballot, you are so unbelievably thick, so stupid and unaware, drunk or stoned probably on something used to clean toilets.

The big question is why spoil your ballot?




Women died for my right to vote. Spoiling your ballot just means your opinion doesn't count. They won't care what you write on it.



Whatever you write is irrelevant. You've spoiled your ballot, neither your vote nor your opinion will count.



Spoiling a ballot is a waste of a vote. It just gets recorded under 4 columns of types of error. Some might get looked at if the vite is close so they can argue if any scribbles could count as a x in a box. Otherwise they go in the bin.

Unpleasant Truth?

We feel as if this is so obvious that we shouldn't have to state it but we're going to for the sake of clarity:

The turnout in Rutherglen & Hamilton West was 37%. The turnout in Rochdale was 39%.

Both of those by-elections received huge media coverage so it's unlikely that many constituents in either area were unaware that a poll was being held. If over 60% in each place declined to cast their votes - for whatever reason - then it is legitimate to ask how many of them were making a conscious decision to do so.

Whether or not citizens should be compelled to vote, or should feel obliged to do so, are entirely separate debates.

We are where we are: the majority of eligible voters are not turning up. It should be possible to accept that obvious fact before analysing the reasons or launching into philosophical discussions about the rights and responsibilities of individuals in democratic states.

Our attempt to have this matter discussed is made in good faith. We are not advocating a complete boycott of the UK GE, or any other election. What we are saying - and are repeating again now - is that many people have stated outright that they have no faith in the democratic system we have and are no longer participating - their minds are made up and that decision should be respected. How they can best express that dissatisfaction is a legitimate topic for discussion.

Some independence supporters will have a candidate they feel happy to support with their vote. But most will not. What are they to do? 'Wheesht For Democracy'?

The poll is open for another couple of days.

(2) Off-Topic Scotland on X: "If you intend to 'spoil' your ballot at the next UK GE, will you be writing any of the following on your paper?" / X (twitter.com)

If you intend to 'spoil' your ballot at the next UK GE, will you be writing any of the following on your paper?

#EndTheUnion 42.3%

#NotMyParliament 22.2%

#WomenWontWheesht 29.4%

Other (detail below) 6%

248 votes

3 days left

2:38 PM · Mar 5, 2024


'Is it not your duty to vote?'

That was the question asked of Jim Kelman at the 17th Edinburgh Independent Radical Book Fair (October 2013). Here's his response:

James Kelman on Self Determination (youtube.com)

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