by Daphna Whitmore

orange-manIt has already started – the electoral people are out and about with their clip boards urging us to get on the electoral roll. They are polite, friendly and successful. Currently nearly 90 percent of adults are on the roll. However, when it comes to voting it’s a different picture. At the last election nearly a quarter didn’t vote.

Labour is planning a get out the vote campaign this year and is hoping to win over the 730,000 who didn’t vote in 2014. That was their strategy back in 2014 too and was a resounding flop with them winning just 25% of the vote.

Their 2017 campaign will again call on people to “Vote to Change the Government”. Labour knows it is unlikely to mobilise a lot of direct support for its party and hopes that chanting “Vote to Change the Government” will subtley do the trick.

The mindlessness of the slogan is fitting. What real difference will it make if Labour governs rather than National? As we’ve often discussed on Redline the two main capitalist parties occupy much the same ground. On issues where they don’t overlap sometimes Labour is to the right of National as they were on wanting to lift the retirement age. National moved Labour to the left on that issue. Sometimes Labour pushes National further right as can be seen with the law and order question and now National is promising more police. Labour meantime is bringing on the man who for years has been the mouthpiece for more police powers. Keith Locke’s article on Labour selecting former Police Association president Greg O’Connor to be a candidate is worth reading.

Some on the left are so blinded by hope that Labour will be a left alternative they will obediently fall in behind the campaign. Energy and ideas that could be harnessed elsewhere get squandered when activists back capitalist parties. A campaign to change the government won’t change anything much. In contrast not voting is one way of expressing dissent not just with the government but the system. It doesn’t detract from other forms of struggle and it doesn’t drain energy and resources. If you don’t have progressive candidates and parties to support give it a go!

Here are some earlier articles on the subject of voting or not:

Over the past few weeks a position has crystallised at Redline in terms of not voting in the 2014 election and advocating that others make a positive decision not to vote. This position is shared by a layer of comrades in AWSM (Aotearoa Workers Solidarity Movement) and a layer of independent left […]

  A Redline supporter and occasional contributor, Andy Warren, has set up a Facebook page called Not Voting is a Political Act. You can check it out at: Join in the discussion there, and here. And, if you’re down south, don’t forget the meeting: Saturday evening, September 13, 7pm Dunedin Community House, 283 Moray […]

by Don Franks
A popular bumper sticker argues, “If you skip voting it’s not rebellion – it’s surrender”. I don’t think it’s either of those things. This election I won’t be voting, because, after considering all the options, none of them do it for me. Although this time round I did consider the possibility of […]

by Colin Clarke
I first had the opportunity to participate in the democratic process in May 1980, a year after Margaret Thatcher had won the British General Election. I reluctantly cast my vote for a long forgotten (British) Labour Party council candidate. I didn’t feel particularly enamoured by the business of voting then and nor […]


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