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Tuesday, 29 May, 2001, 08:19 GMT 09:19 UK
'I'm a convert'

The ranks of the apathetic are slowly diminishing. A third candidate in BBC News Online's Persuade Me to Vote has been swayed.

Every potential voter has the right to stay at home on polling day. Sometimes it's a form of protest, but often it is because of apathy.

And sometimes, like in the case of Albert Peck, they are open to persuasion. Albert was the fifth candidate in BBC News Online's Persuade Me to Vote series.

Originally he had said he would not be voting because he was too busy to investigate the policies of every party. But having heard a selection of the hundreds of your e-mails, he changed his mind and pledged to re-order his diary to fit in a spot of election "thinking time".

According to some estimations, up to 13 million people will stay away from the ballot box on general election day. The figure is considered abnormally high.

Click here to read some of your arguments and Albert's responses.

Why I won't be voting, by Albert Peck:
"I have never voted. Only when I started working and became a taxpayer did politics even become relevant to me. I have a busy and hectic lifestyle, so the only exposure I have to politics is via the internet or TV.

"All I am presented with are a collection of social-climbing individuals who appear to be in politics just for themselves. Ninety per cent of the time, they would rather berate or slander the opposing parties or policies than get across the message of what they are actually going to do.

The parties' appalling behaviour clouds how they intend to deliver their promises

"So, to know which candidate/party would benefit me I would have to take time I can ill afford to review their propaganda and histories. Even then, it's a question of who will be the lesser evil once in office.

"Democracy gives us the choice to vote. I choose not to vote as the parties' appalling behaviour clouds how they intend to deliver their promises, or what their polices will mean to me, a single twenty-something with a professional career.

"All this resigns me to the fact that whatever party succeeds, irrelevant of my vote, I will pay more tax by one means or another. So why should I vote, when I have to pay more regardless?"

Some of your comments and Albert's responses:

  • I am also a single twenty-something with a career in computing, running my own business. You should vote because it's not just about you and your life but what's good for the people around you and the population as a whole. Benjamin Stanley, Birmingham
    Albert: "The problem is that I've enough trouble finding out how the policies are going to affect me let alone other people in the community. It haven't got the time."

    How do I know whether I've got the full story? Would I be missing things they don't want to publicise?

  • So all politicians are social climbers without regard to anyone else? Perhaps you should stop emulating these people by thinking what the election can do for you and recognise your vote may help others. Take an hour or two out of your hectic lifestyle and use your vote to benefit others less fortunate than you. Tax policy is not the sum of politics. Andrew Commins, Exeter, UK
    Albert: "The thing is, would it really be an hour or two? There are three major parties as well as the alternatives. I would need to find out what each one proposes on several different issues. And then how do I know whether I've got the full story? Would I be missing things they don't want to publicise?"

  • Many people have given their lives for your right to vote. Even today people die in an attempt to enjoy the freedom of speech which many of us take for granted. Gerry, Brighton UK
    Albert: "I take the point and it's a good one, but I'm not sure I could honour those that have died by placing my vote where I was sure it would benefit society as a whole. But it's probably the only reason that I would give over the time to pick up and read a dull and boring [political] leaflet put through my door."

    I've had no political social conditioning. My politics have not been coloured by my parents

  • Your access to education (and hence your career), your freedom to choose your own employment, your freedom to watch uncensored TV or to use the internet. All these things come about due to the fact you live in a democratic society. Lynn Bowdler, Sydney, Australia
    Albert: "Ok, but it's very difficult to say who has done more to bring about these 'rights'. I couldn't tell you which party gave us uncensored TV so it's unclear who to reward with my vote."

  • The business environment, the roads you travel on; the police you turn to when your house is broken into; the number of days holiday you get (or don't); the system by which your pension is regulated; the quality of the air that you breathe; etc, etc, etc; They depend enormously on who is in government. Sean O'Curneen, London, UK
    Albert: "I completely agree. I probably will take a couple of hours to investigate but I'm sure it will not give me a conclusive answer so my vote would be a gamble. The problem is I've had no political social conditioning. My politics have not been coloured by my parents or the people I hang around with. I'm a scientist. I'm very logical. I need the facts and the figures and I need to be sure one way or the other."

  • If, as you think, you'll always pay more tax, then it's all the more important to at least choose the government that you think will spend you money in the best way. Gareth Close, London, UK
    Albert: "I do like that thought and yeah, I like to know how my taxes are being spent. But while tax is the most important single thing to me, I do have other concerns, like the environment. So what's to say the one that spends my money the best doesn't have destructive policies towards the environment."

    I want them to concentrate on their policies, not to slag off those of their rivals

  • How will your not voting make any difference? One or other of the parties will be elected regardless. By not voting you are really allowing other people to decide how much tax you pay. If you can't spend the time to look at each party in depth, base your vote on the bullet point pledges. Mark Flynn, United Kingdom
    Albert: "This goes back to the thing that I want to know more than a few bullet points. What I need is somewhere that presents the policies of all three parties in one place, and will let me look in detail on the points that matter to me and I want them to concentrate on their policies, not to slag off those of their rivals."

  • It's absurd to say MPs are in it for their self-interest alone. Blair could be earning three times as much as he gets now if he'd remained a top lawyer like Cherie. And Hague really doesn't get paid that much for what he does Tom, Cambridge, UK
    Albert: "I don't think it's about money, it's about power and influence."

  • It is not good enough to say that all politicians are the same and to use this as an excuse not to vote. Everyone should exercise their right to vote, even if this involves just spoiling their ballot paper on principle. Jamie, Lincoln, England
    Albert: "Some friends recommended this to me. I think it's a good idea."

    Albert's verdict: "Yeah, I think I will vote. Out of responsibility to the people that fought and died, the least I can do is to investigate what the parties are planning, what's in their manifestos. But I suspect I won't be much wiser. I might spoil my paper."

    If anyone else finds themselves in the same position as Albert with not enough time to read the manifestos, click here for our Main Issues finder for help in discovering what's important to you.