Russell Brand appearing on Question Time

Russell Brand doesn't vote. Should you?


There's an old saying that goes, "if voting could really change anything, it would be illegal". In a bravado performance this week Russell Brand declared he never had voted, and never would, as to do so only props up a dilapidated, cruel and greedy political edifice. So is not voting a valid political stance?

Case for

Voting means representation? Pah. You sign the ballot paper, some jobsworth is sent to parliament, where they are Whipped to follow the party line on all issues, meaning they don't represent you who voted them in, really, or - even if they do for a while -  will most likely sacrifice principle for pragmatics as soon as the going gets tough (witness tuition fees, for one).

Then, go broader. The planet is warming at an unsustainable rate (and for the last time, it IS MAN). Just this week David Cameron promised to "roll back" green taxes. So, that means more fossil fuels being burnt, so more warming. And who will suffer the worst, the soonest from global warming? People in developing countries, or to put it another way the least responsible (take a look at this map).

And if we're talking about poverty, untrammelled capitalism has resulted in a world where Bangladeshi garment workers get paid 11 cents an hour to make obscenely cheap jumpers for the West to wear.

Voting buys into the status quo. And our status quo brought us to the financial collapse of 2008. It brought us to a situation where 350,000 people now rely on foodbanks. And it paid MPs to watch over this mess handsomely, via fraudulent expenses claims. Vote? It's just the same grind, the same disappointment every time, with one lot just as bad as the other.

Case against

Let's do this by numbers.

1. George Bush. In 2000, Bush won the vote in Florida, by 543 votes. That, you might say, had lasting consequences, for hundreds of millions of people.

2. Squeezing the young. In the 2010 UK election, 76 per cent of the over 65s voted, compared to just 44 per cent of those aged 18 to 24. The result? Pensions triple-locked, university fees tripled.

3. Progressive laws. In recent history, the UK government has introduced a national minimum wage, the right to paid leave, and a ban on discrimination in the workplace. It has legalised abortion, opened up marriage to homosexual couples, and given schools money specifically to assist the least well off pupils.

4. The fewer people who feel disenfranchised vote, the more disenfranchised they will become. Turnout was 65% for the UK election in 2010. If people believe that governments are ignoring the poor, or the climate, then they should vote for a party who supports them. At the very least, it would have a blocking effect on opposed interests.

Read Next
David Cameron faces the press as he arrives in Brussels for the EU leaders summit on Thursday reuters  

On the Tusk of a dilemma: Cameron's latest EU renegotiation foe

Andrew Grice
John Profumo and his wife Valerie Robson in 1959  

Stephen Ward’s trial was disgraceful. There can be no justification for it

Geoffrey Robertson QC
Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas