You Are an Ant in a Pile of Ants
There are a hell of a lot of people in this country, and on May 7th, some of you might find yourself heading out to cast what we political insiders call a ‘vote’ in a thing that we call a ‘General Election’. Despite the name, this tradition actually has nothing to do with the military, though you will be electing a Prime Minister who is going to spend much of the next five years shouting, wearing a sort of tie-based uniform and ordering underlings around. Much has been made of the similarity between the two main parties/the three main parties/the five main parties/all the parties this time round, and despite the prevalence of online tools designed to help you work out who to vote for, it’s still super tricky to decide. Sit back, and let me explain exactly which box to cross.
First things first: definitely vote. If nothing else, it gives you the right to complain if your choice doesn’t win. (Well, I certainly didn’t vote for them!) Who to vote for though? That’s the problem. You could vote based on what you believe in. That’s technically what you’re meant to do. Or you could vote tactically, especially if you are ‘lucky’ enough to live in a marginal seat. But in the entire history of voting in the UK, in which thousands and thousands of MPs have been elected, only one, ever, was decided by a single vote (Exeter, 1910, in which the Tories beat the Liberals 4,777 to 4,776). That’s sort of a problem. You’re just a single person, with a single vote. In the average General Election, your vote is one in thirty million.
It’s like being stopped on the street and asked to donate a pound coin to either ‘Save the Orphan Puppies’ or ‘Save the Orphan Kittens’. Whichever charity makes the least will, unfortunately, be shut down, and the animals they care for catapulted into the sea. You can’t decide which one to support, so you opt, rather arbitrarily, to give your money to the poorest charity. The charity workers tell you they’ve piled up all thirty million pound coins they received today just round the corner, and you’re presented with two, colossal mountains of coinage, stretching up forty kilometres into the upper atmosphere, the summit lost somewhere on the edge of space. You can’t really tell which has more coins, and your coin (with a thickness of a few millimetres) is basically invisible. It doesn’t matter who you help, and even if you really want to save the puppies or the kittens, you probably can’t. And definitely don’t bother helping the orphan bunnies, because they never win. Disheartening, don’t you think?
You are nothing. An ant in a pile of ants. A speck of something on a crumb of something else. Many a drop makes an ocean, sure, but in the end, it doesn’t matter if your drop flows into the Pacific or the Atlantic: they’re still gonna be oceans whether you turn up or not. Given that you can’t influence the outcome of the election by deciding who to vote for (I presume you’re far too lazy/sensible to actually get involved in politics), then maybe you should vote based on some other, arbitrarily defined factor. To help, I’ve gathered as many as I could think of here and have presented them in a handy, easy to use questionnaire:
Start with a list of all major political parties standing in the 2015 General Election.
Part 1: Imagine you are at a dinner party with friends/your parents/your significant other’s parents/your work colleagues/a disapproving vicar. Eliminate any party you would be legitimately embarrassed to admitting to have voted for during after dinner discussions.
Part 2: Which of these things is your favourite? Eliminate those you don’t like.
- An abstract blue tree that could have been painted by accident (vote Tory)
- A rose (spot the hidden Lenin!) made of negative space in a red square (vote Labour)
- A bird made entirely of yellow eyebrows (vote Lib Dem)
- A pound symbol cut into pieces by some letters (vote UKIP)
- A sort of global flower that could just be the Earth on fire (vote Green)
- One of those ‘Jesus fish’, but fat and standing on its head (vote SNP)
- A yellow Spirograph drawing (vote Plaid Cymru)
Whichever party is left, vote for them. If you live in Northern Ireland, and have the audacity to have your own set of parties, roll a dice or flip a coin or something, I don’t know. That’s pretty much the standard view of the pollsters anyway. If you didn’t get a clear answer, then you’ve failed, and should be ashamed. Happy now? Regardless, never forget that you have no meaningful political power and might as well jump into the catapult with all the orphan puppies and kittens. Merry election!