Without the ability to share our ideas and opinions, we cannot debate issues or make informed decisions. We lose the power to shape our own consciousness, our own future. The right to communicate can remedy the distorted and misleading public discourse, the sort that allowed the US and UK to attack Iraq, that allows big business to keep global warming and climate chaos off the political agenda. It is this same discourse that disempowers us at a time when the forthcoming general elections could serve to elect a government that might genuinely manifest the needs and opinions of its population, but instead is distorted by the same tactics as the right wing media, through instilling fear and hatred against prescribed scapegoats rather than inspiring people to believe in ways that we can change things for the better. Just as the mainstream media preys on an apathetic and submissive population, so the current parties in power rely on the apathy of a people who are too disheartened by the way politics have been run for so long to effect positive change through participating.
Voting is obviously not the only way to effect change, and we cannot rely solely on the party political system that, in its current state, does little to represent the will of the people. Activists have achieved huge gains through acting outside the institutional power structures. However, non-participation in the elections would constitute a failure to hold the present Labour government to account for the crimes committed not just against the people of Iraq, but against its own people, in the form of privatisation of public services, and the ongoing curtailment of civil liberties.
By voting outside the top two parties it would be possible to open up space for independent MPs and smaller parties to resist the mainstream parties and the agenda they set. For more info and links to various different voting campaigns, including the ‘vote none of the above’ campaign, see www.globalizer.org.
For a chance to take part in actually un-electing Tony Blair in his home constituency up at Sedgefield see www.blairditchproject.com. The Sedgefield campaign is not backing a particular candidate unless the people of Sedgefield state a clear preference, and is therefore not tainted by the invasive, dogmatic marketing adopted by parties at election time.
We need to reclaim our right to communicate, to freedom of speech, by reaching people through word of mouth, through independently-run media, and crucially at this time, through the remnants of democracy that are left to us, which those before us fought to attain, and which many people across the globe are still struggling to win.