Register to vote and naff up your ballots

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The Independent Online
Daniel Hooper - better known as the roads protester Swampy - has a vote, but he has no intention of using it, writes Clare Garner.

He doesn't believe in voting: all politicians are as bad as each other and by voting for any of them he would be endorsing what is, in his view, a bankrupt system.

Election day on a road protest site will be the same as any other day for 23-year-old Swampy, who came to fame during the A30 evictions at Fairmile in Devon last month. "I'll probably be having some breakfast, doing the washing up, digging a bit of tunnel and putting up a treehouse," he said yesterday. "I don't feel that any of the parties represent my opinion at all and I don't agree with the political system. If you put people in power they generally get corrupted by power, as is quite clear from seeing the corruption that's around at the moment."

Whilst he admits it would would "quite nice" to see the back of the Conservatives, he doesn't believe Labour would be any better. "I don't believe it would make any difference," he said. "For instance, most of the road building consortiums are now donating money to the other side [Labour], so they are going to be just as corrupt. Take the Criminal Justice Act. Labour has never said they're going to stop that one. They just sit on the fence because they don't want to upset people and lose votes."

It is, he feels, time for the country to turn its back on the political system and prompt change through direct action. "The best way to deal with politicians is to fight them, but at the same time ignore them," he said. "They can't rule our lives if we turn away from them. The more people do that, the more the system is going to break down. Now more than ever, people are ignoring them and they don't feel as powerful as they did before.

"People aren't interested any more in what politicians have got to say. We're only actively encouraging them by voting. Yeah, register to vote and naff up your voting papers en masse."

In Swampy's book, politicians have only themselves to blame for the state of the country. "The amount of damage they are doing is phenomenal," he said. "How the hell can they blame that on young people - or anyone else for that matter. I mean, they're destroying the planet left, right and centre, they're pumping pollution into the air, they're sending people to war, and it's all about money."

But, he added, being young in the Nineties is not all bad. "It's exciting times in a way because there are a lot of things going on and we can make a change if people get active now. Rather than voting it would be better if everyone took their own action. I think we can change things in a different way."

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