Over thirty million people voted against their own interests in the 2015 UK election

Photo by Elliott Stallion via Unsplash

The UK electorate at the last General Election numbered 46,420,413. Let’s be generous with our definition of the economic elite and increase the suggested 1% to 5%. Within Britain, therefore, there are 2,321,021 voters who rely on the Tories to make conditions in this country perfect for maintaining levels of inequality and protecting their lifestyles.

In the 2015 General Election, only 66.1% of the electorate voted. That means 33.9% of the electorate stayed away from the ballot box, for any number of reasons. Of the 66.1% who turned out to vote, the Tories won 36.9% of the ballots. Let’s look at that in straightforward numbers:

Did not vote: 15,736,520

Voted Tory: 17,129,132

Assuming that those who stood to benefit directly from a Tory government — and who were entitled to vote — took the time to vote, the total number of people who voted against their own interests is as follows:

15,736,520 + 17,129,132 − 2,321,021 = 30,544,631

I am counting a refusal to vote as a vote for the Tories because it was the Tories who benefitted from the low turnout. As in all democracies, it tends to be the poor and unemployed who vote in lower numbers.

So, well over thirty million UK voters were happy for a party representing the interests of only a small fraction of the country’s population — and, indeed, the interests of many transnational corporations at the expense of this country’s population — to run the government.

That is quite an indictment of the state of education in this country, of the Labour Party’s inability to deliver its message, and of the state of our mainstream media.

That the mainstream media, for the most part, also backs the Tories is simply an indication that we no longer have a Fourth Estate worthy of the name. One of the primary roles of journalism is surely to inform and empower voters, while simultaneously scrutinising the work of government and its officials. (A definition adapted from David Randall’s excellent The Universal Journalist.) What we have in the UK is a media that reflects the interests of the corporate elite that drives the policies of our nominal government.

This fact, in combination with a mass culture that is based on celebrity worship and ‘reality’ shows, is what makes change so difficult to contemplate and which necessitates the need for mass movements beyond the confines of the traditional party structures.

And mass movements of non-violent protest are the only hope we have of subverting and overturning neoliberal economics, unregulated free-market capitalism and, by extension, saving the planet for future generations.