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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 10:52 GMT 11:52 UK
'I'm not voting and that's final'

Nice try, but your hundreds of e-mails were not enough to persuade avowed non-voter Janet Hanton to change her mind. She remains committed to staying at home on polling day.

Every eligible voter has the right to opt out and not vote at all. Indeed some, like Janet Hanton, argue it is a fundamental democratic right.

Pub landlady Janet, 57, was the sixth candidate in BBC News Online's Persuade Me to Vote series.

She had pledged not to vote in the general election because of her disillusionment with all politicians. And despite your efforts to convince her otherwise, Janet has refused to budge. She will not be voting on 7 June.

According to some estimates, up to 13 million people will shun the ballot box on general election day. If true, this year's number of stay-at-homes would be abnormally high.

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

Why I won't be voting, by Janet Hanton:
"I've voted at every general election since I was 21: first Labour and then Conservative. But I'm not going to vote on 7 June. It's the politicians themselves that have put me off.

"I've come to the conclusion all MPs are just a bunch of liars who never do what they say they will. They're like spoilt children in a playground, name-calling their opponents and never admitting that they might be wrong or that someone on the other side actually has a good idea.

If I promised to cook you a meal and you paid for it and then you didn't get it, I'd have holy hell to pay

"I've lived in this village for 19 years but I've never seen our MP here in all that time. Last November we had floods, but you never saw a politician [in the village] then.

"We've got lots of other problems. The schoolhouse has closed, the last bus to Doncaster leaves at 4.30 in the afternoon, the nearest shop is six miles away. But they're not interested.

"I've come to realise that politicians make lots of promises but they never keep them. If I promised to cook you a meal at the pub and you paid for it and then you didn't get it, I'd have holy hell to pay."

Some of your comments and Janet's responses:

  • I don't think anyone can disagree with what you are saying. I think you have a very good reason not to vote. However, elections are the only chance we have to make our tiny voices heard above the bickering and childishness that goes on in Parliament. James Rumsby, Grimsby, UK.
    Janet: "If that's what he believes then good for him, but I don't agree. I think you scream and shout but I still don't think anything is going to happen."

    The people going to vote are not really thinking. They just do it out of habit.

  • Having never had the right to vote, never mind the opportunity, I think it is a privilege that should be cherished and used. I am a British citizen, born and bred in Zambia. I have no right to vote in UK as I have never lived there long enough. I do not wish to become a Zambian citizen. Sue Carruthers, Lusaka, Zambia
    Janet: "I've chosen not to vote this time as a protest against politicians. I would turn it around and say the people going to vote are not really thinking. They just do it out of habit. They're the lemmings, throwing themselves off a cliff. If more people registered their protest by not voting it might shake them up."

  • I sympathise with Janet. I have seen our MP once in our village, and that was to distribute leaflets during the election campaign to tell us about her and what she has done for the community. They are things which I can see very little evidence of. However, the vote is our only influence over who governs us. It cannot be wasted. Peter Ross, Bromsgrove, UK
    Janet: Well, at least you've had leaflets. With only a week to go until polling day still no one has bothered coming here, not even to drop a leaflet through our door.

    The problem is, it's a forgone conclusion. This is a rock-solid Labour area

  • "If I promised to cook you a meal at the pub and you paid for it and then you didn't get it, I'd have holy hell to pay." Only if I bothered to complain. I could just assume that all cooks are liars, whinge, but ultimately, do nothing about it or I could stand up for my rights. Where's the difference? You have a grievance, make you voice heard. Vote against your MP. There may well be a load of other people who also didn't get their pies. Chad Noble, London, UK
    Janet: "Vote against my MP? From my experience, none of them have done any good. I suppose the problem is, it's a forgone conclusion. This is a rock-solid Labour area."

  • Remember your great grandparents were not allowed to vote - they were exploited, overworked and underpaid. You owe it to them to keep our politicians aware that we have the power to install them or kick them out! Gladys Baker-Bainbridge, Stockton-on-Tees UK
    Janet: "It's not an easy decision, after all, I've vote in all the previous elections. But in a democracy it's as much a right not to vote as to vote. No one is going to march me down to the polling station."

    I think you'll find I'm not alone - that the turnout at this election will be the lowest in history

  • Having no say rather than a little say is cutting your nose off to spite your face. Women especially should make the effort to use their vote, because women died for the privilege. Even if you disagree with the politics of your candidates you should support the politics of women's freedom. Siobhan, London, UK
    Janet: "What she's saying is true. It is on my conscience. But I'm not saying I'm never going to vote in the future."

  • If you hate the major parties then register a protest vote for one of the many smaller parties. I can't say I have a lot of time for most politicians but I certainly have preferences, even if it boils down to little more than I'd rather be poked in the eye than kicked somewhere delicate. John B, UK
    Janet: "We don't have any smaller parties standing here. Outside of the big three the only other option is an independent candidate, and I'll be honest, I'm not sure I trust him either."

  • If she can't be bothered to vote, she cannot complain when the politicians can't be bothered to improve things for her. Richard, Gloucester
    Janet: "I think you'll find that I'm not alone here, that the turnout at this election will be the lowest in history. Maybe that will make the politicians realise there are thousands of people out here who are very, very annoyed. And that, in the future, if there are going to make promises they'll have to keep them."

    Janet's verdict: "I'm still definitely not voting. I hope others will do the same as me. It's not laziness or apathy, it's a very definite protest."