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50 Years Ago: Is it Foolish?

The following appeared in the Stratford Express (3 June 1955):-

“HOW FOOLISH”

“It seems so simple to put a cross against the name of a chosen candidate – so simple that it is almost impossible to go wrong. Yet in these local divisions scores of people wasted their votes by spoiling papers in one of a variety of ways. In one of the West Ham divisions, for instance, there were 40 spoilt papers. Some people had added their name and address; some had scrawled the letters S.P.G.B. (Socialist Party of Great Britain) on the paper, while others had voted for each of the candidates and a few had put the paper in the ballot box completely blank. An indication of their state of mind, perhaps!”

It is, of course, the reference to the S.P.G.B. that concerns us, and it has to be taken in conjunction with the statement that it is “so simple to put a cross against the name of a chosen candidate.” But suppose you don’t choose either candidate. Suppose you are one of the million and a half former Labour voters who could discern so little difference between the parties that it wasn’t worthwhile voting.

Or, again, suppose you are a Socialist and do not want Capitalism at all, not Labour-administered Capitalism or Tory-administered Capitalism? What should you do then? Is it foolish to show on the ballot paper what you do want? It has any rate had the merit that it caught the attention of the Stratford Express.

Of course Socialists would prefer to have their own Socialist candidates to vote for, but the Labour, Tory and Liberal parties, by agreement on the £150 deposit, made it very difficult for a small organisation to enter the field.

(From The Socialist Standard, July 1955)