By L.G. Braithwaite II.
I say, I say, I say….
How many votes does it take to change a councillor?
I don’t know, how many votes does it take to change a councillor?
About…Oh, say, about 801….
Not a massive amount then. And not a very funny joke; the punch line lacked a certain something, humour I think it’s called. This of course mirrors the situation we find ourselves in at the moment here in Aberdeen. It’s not very funny, the punch lines fail to deliver and the humour – along with our democratic rights – definitely lacks a certain something.
But, I hear you ask how can we do this? We feel helpless, some of us are apathetic, and apathy, as we all know, is the career politicians’ best friend. How can we change the system? How can we make our voices heard? How do we influence the elected to do the best for our city?
There is no easy answer to these problems, but change has happened before, the political elite have been put on the ropes from the great unwashed like us, things can evolve and they can evolve for the better. We just need courage in our convictions. It can be done and it must be done!
So come on, gather round children. Are you sitting comfortably? Good, then I’ll begin….
Once upon a time, long, long ago, in a far, far off land there was a man. He wasn’t a good man, nor was he a bad man; he was just a man. He was just a man who cared for his home town and could no longer stand idly by and watch it be destroyed. The town was not being cared for as he believed it should be. He felt helpless and lost, how could he possibly make a difference? How could he have his voice heard when he could not be heard in the din that is the tireless endeavours of the established lobbyists and the mainstream popular groups.
One day he realised that a huge proportion of his town didn’t vote, put off by … well the list is long and varied, compounded by the widespread feelings of futility amongst the towns people. So, he thought to himself “maybe we need to find someone who will stand for officialdom who represents us.” So, after a long search across many strange lands he found someone to stand for office, he established an election team, a mandate and an agenda. He called it “FREAK POWER.”
He targeted the apathetic folks, disillusioned with what was in place, as potential voters for his candidate. He worked hard and found a team of people who also thought that change should and could be achieved. They worked even harder and long into the night for many, many nights. They canvassed; they harassed and harangued, they begged and they pleaded. They sought out the apathetic, the disinterested, the freaks, the weirdo’s, the two time losers and the lost ones and asked only for 30 minutes of their lives to go out and vote, just one vote to change things for the better, to change things for themselves. A vote to put people first.
The weeks stretched into months, sleep was but a distant memory, relationships crumbled, friendships dissolved and exhaustion was a constant ever nagging companion.
And soon enough…..
The day of the election dawned and confidence was high in the freak camp, the exit polls looked positive and the established order had been reduced to the dirtiest of tricks and intimidation. Democracy was about to be restored; hope was about to be given back for all those marginalised.
They lost in the end, of course, by 6 votes…
…But they did change the politics of the town forever. It forced a coalition from two opposing parties as this was the only way to stop the freak vote from winning, they politicised a generation in their home town and their candidate did go on to win an election at a future date.
The people of his town knew from then on that they did have power, a balance was restored and although they knew they would always be getting knocked down they would go down fighting.
So, how can this help us here in Aberdeen?
Well….its tricky but not hopeless…we just need to organise, get an agenda together and find some good people to run in 2012 who will better represent the views of the people. But, most importantly we need to solve the problem of apathy in the electorate, which of course, is the hardest thing to achieve.
So let us suppose that we had a candidate standing in the George Street / harbour constituency, what would we need to win a seat in the council election of 2012?
In 2007 the total votes cast were:
Votes cast – 3922
Spoilt ballots – 91
To win a seat on the council all we would need (at 2007 figures) a minimum of 801 votes.
Councillor John Stewarts’ votes 801.
Councillor Jim Hunters’ votes 960.
Councillor Andrew Mays’ votes 1272.
So, 801…It’s not that much from a city with an approximate population of 210,000 is it?
And considering that about only 80,000 votes were cast in total that leaves about, oh, say, 130,000 votes that are out there, untapped, ignored, unwanted, unloved.
They are just waiting for someone to encourage them to go out and vote.
130,000 votes to upset the status quo with…Of course some of the 130,000 are children, roughly about 30,000, so there is still about 100,000 adults of voting age just waiting to cast a vote for you, your party and ideals.
So start your own politics, start your own party, start your own thing, take control and then go find 1000 people to vote for you. Hold a big party, host gigs, flyer your neighbourhood, knock on doors, get organised, get a plan and go, go, go!
Let’s shake things up, let’s do it for ourselves. Let’s win some respect back and take some control over our own destinies.
How hard can it be?
Figures from the Election Unit homepage on A.C.C. Site
Read more about freak power in – “The great shark hunt” by Hunter S Thompson.