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Wednesday, 6 June, 2001, 20:02 GMT 21:02 UK
None of the above?

A poll for BBC News Online by ICM reveals 58% of all age-groups feel that none of the political parties represent their views.

One independent candidate in this election is standing under the name 'Sister Xnunoftheabove' and is campaigning for the introduction of a 'none of the above' box on ballot papers.

He says that anyone who doesn't agree with the policies of the established parties should still have a voice.

The 'none of the above' ballot option already exists in the US state of Nevada. Thailand is proposing the same - if 'none of the above' comes first, the ballot will have to be re-run with new candidates.

Would you support the addition of 'none of the above' on the ballot paper? Do the political parties represent your views and if they don't, would you like the chance to be able to say so in the voting booth?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.

Your reactions

In my experience the so-called 'disaffected voters' are lazy voters

Bob, Chippenham
The big parties can never satisfy every constituency but I think it is right that we should be restricted to a simple choice of which one we prefer although none are likely to match our demands. Introducing 'none of the above' is simple tokenism. In my experience the so-called 'disaffected voters' are lazy voters - unwilling to think about the issues and make a hard choice. They then blame the political process for their own lack of engagement and commitment.
Bob, Chippenham

A 'none of the above' box would be absolutely the thing for me, being a lifelong Labour voter in a very safe Tory seat. The Tory candidate is so arrogantly certain of a win that he couldn't be bothered either to turn up to a local election forum with the other candidates or to answer questions posed by the local paper. As someone who disagrees profoundly with everything that he stands for, it doesn't matter where I place my vote, he will still "represent" me come June 8th. In the absence of PR, please God give me a "none of the above" box.
Ron Blow, Louth, England

Why bother voting at all. We will shortly be run by Europe anyway.
John K, Leicester

A vote for 'none of the above' would might focus the parties into trying to really meet the needs of voter

John Gregory, Plymouth, UK
How can I with true conscience endorse an individual whom I believe is not in keeping with my views or who I consider incapable of the job? A vote for 'none of the above' would solve this issue and might focus the parties and others into trying to really meet the needs of voters. Failing this reform to ensure that each vote does actually count may allow faith in voting for minor parties as a register of interest and concern.
John Gregory, Plymouth, UK

None of the main parties have addressed the environmental issues, except to slam motorists! None will come clean with views of their own, for example with the issue of defence and the role of our forces in Europe. They are just out-bidding each other over the same issues. I will vote, but unless I am convinced of one party talking realistically in the next 36 hours, it will be another spoilt ballot paper.
Tricia Guy, Coventry, England

A 'none of the above' box would appear to minimise the problems of the low turnouts we have experienced in the past decade. The usually low turn out in our age group is falsely seen as apathy - if we had a 'none of the above' box we could exercise our democratic right while expressing our dissatisfaction. Especially in light of the Conservatives being unelectable and the unlikelihood of a Liberal Democrat win, this box could become the electorate's only real option against Tony Blair. Shel Mannion, Liverpool, UK

'None of the above', combined with compulsory voting would certainly improve matters

Andy Trigg, London, England
'None of the above', combined with compulsory voting and a system where the winner of an election must hold at least fifty per cent of the vote would certainly improve matters. We could then say we truly have a democracy.
Andy Trigg, London, England

Where is the choice? We have a choice of two conservative parties with their 'them or us' mandates. Any third option, such as the Liberal Democrats, has no hope of achieving any significant result. In the absence of any system of proportional representation, some means of expressing our disapproval is necessary.
Colin, Weymouth, UK

I realistically think that there must be a "none of the above" option on the ballot for a true democracy. At the moment the issue is obscured by people drawing conclusions based on the registered electorate that did not vote. This is wrong. If the current candidates on offer do not represent you there definitely should be a mechanism for making that known.
George Fish, Coventry, UK

I am a recent émigré (temporary) to the USA and would welcome the introduction of a way to register that all the current 'leaders' are not representing the views of the people. Blair is copying the Democratic Party and rushed to the liberal centre ground. He is attempting to turn a parliamentary democracy into a presidential autocracy. Hague on the other hand wants to preserve something that disappeared long ago. A Britain that has a voice in the world and controls a large part of the world trade. We need a new agenda from one of these guys.
John Mckee, Milwaukee, USA

Postal voting is not a convenience if you live abroad, it is a disgrace

David Page, Auckland
Like many British voters currently overseas, I have been disenfranchised having gone to exceptional lengths to ensure I was on the register. I am surprised at the numbers of people in a similar position. I received mine on Saturday, but with the Queen's Birthday holiday in NZ yesterday, it has left me just three days to get my ballot paper back to the UK. This is a disgraceful abuse of my right to vote. The Inland Revenue is happy to collect the tax from our investments and bank accounts in the UK and elsewhere, but we are denied a say in how that money is spent. With electronic identification measures currently available (electronic banking etc), surely the technology exists for us to vote online. In the absence of online voting, why can't the High Commissions, Consulates and Embassies provide us with a secure method to declare our voting intensions? Postal voting is not a convenience if you live abroad, it is a disgrace.
David Page, Auckland, New Zealand

I have always voted and will continue to do so because people fought and died for our right to vote. The rightward lurch of both the Tories and New Labour means that in this election, there is little to vote for and yet much to vote against. I suspect that if people were able to vote for "None of the above", it may well be that more voters would take that option than support the winning party. This would help put any parliamentary "landslides" into perspective.
Julian Borrett, Leeds

Why bother. Politicians these days are just another elite. Don't flatter them with a vote. Where are the people who speak on behalf of the person in the street? I'm voting the for the Longboard Surfing Party - if I can find a candidate!
Steve, Surrey

Perhaps if "None of the above" won, the ballot would have to be declared void until some worthwhile candidates were put up for election?
Keith Jones, Bristol, UK

It is very interesting that this issue has appeared online. Last Friday (1st June) at an Election Forum in my constituency (Ribble Valley) the Liberal Democrat Candidate (Mike Carr) in answer to a question on whether or not it would be a good idea to introduce compulsory voting he said "there should be a box saying none of the above" in an effort to get more people to vote. Incidentally none of candidates were in favour of compulsory voting nor did any other candidate suggest a "none of the above" box!
John Garner, Clitheroe, Lancashire

We should have a choice of policy as well as party

David Murphy, San Francisco
No one party represents my views, but there is one that comes closes to my overall philosophy. What would make me interested again in politics would be if some way could be found whereby we could vote support for individual policies. Currently, you elect a party and you elect a set of policies whether you want them or not. We should have a choice of policy as well as party. At least none of them would be able to claim a 'mandate' for their policy merely because they were elected - they would have to win the battle for policy properly.
David Murphy, San Francisco, USA

How I wish that Tony Blair were more like John Prescott. Maybe then he would have flattened Jeremy Paxman. I had thought of not going to vote until I saw how Tony Blair handled this person. He has got my vote!
Eileen, Nottinghamshire

There is no need for a 'none of the above' box since anybody can spoil their ballot paper. Also, the democratic system can only work if people accept a certain amount of compromise. They may not find that a party fully represents their views on all issues, but what really are the chances of that ever happening?
Dan, High Wycombe, England

With a "none of the above option" we could have compulsory voting. This would solve the apathy problem at a stroke. Compared to the census, compulsory voting would almost be enjoyable.
Allan, Leighton Buzzard

Where has all our extra tax money gone in the last few years? To pay for more politicians in the Welsh and Scottish Parliaments that the people of the UK neither asked for nor needed. There's plenty more in Europe this money could and should have been spent on education and health. More politicians mean more journalists. This is why this has not been questioned.
Robin, UK

Instead of having a 'none of the above' box, the problem should be solved outright and proportional representation introduced. It will be a breath of fresh air for our conservative democracy.
Marcus Hastings, Bath UK

How embarrassing to find that people would rather have nothing than you

Emma, London
Why shouldn't we have 'none of the above'? Are politicians scared of how often that vote would come through? How embarrassing to find that people would rather have nothing than you. That's why we don't get none of the above. With today's politicians being slightly varied pastel shades of each other nobody identifies with their policies that strongly. It should be there so that those of us who are not happy with any of the candidates can have a say.
Emma, London, UK

Nuns shouldn't get involved in politics.
Stuart, Durham

I am, I suppose middle class of middle income. I don't have children and I have private Medical Insurance. Although I agree that there should be sufficient funds set aside for hospitals and schools, none of the parties appear to support rural policing, road and rail infrastructure, traffic calming and the supply of essential services to all. I am fed up being heavily taxed. I cannot walk safely along the lanes where I live, as there are no pavements, cycle paths, street lamps or policing. Trains are few and unreliable. I can't work from home because the telephone lines are slow (we don't have digital systems yet. None of these modern conveniences are available to me yet I live a mere 35 miles from London. We are the forgotten few of 'safe' seats.
Andrew Denley, Mid-Sussex England

"A little bit of each" is perhaps closer to the mark! No one party seems to have got the right mixture. Lib Dem have tax accountability, but there are other aspects of both Tory and Labour policies that also appeal. If "none of the above wins", presumably we get a coalition by consensus?!
Phil W, Bristol, UK

I'd like the existing system replaced with a lot more referendums on issues. Let us decide how much tax we pay, and what we want it spent on - via referendums. Decide whether to join the Euro or not via referendums. When the vote they make today affects the amount people pay tomorrow (rather than at some unspecified time in the future) then you'd see a lot more people voting. Alternatively, do away with government altogether and let us "vote" in the shops using our credit-cards whenever we choose what we are buying.
Pete Morgan-Lucas, Wiltshire, UK

What we really need is to be able to vote for Policies not Politicians

Susie Mahmood, Swindon
What we really need is to be able to vote for Policies not Politicians! That way people would be able to express their views on issues they were interested in and abstain on the rest instead of the present system where you have to back all of one party's policies or abstain completely. I know this would be a logistical nightmare, but if everybody had a "voting account" accessible I'm sure it could be made more secure than the current Postal Vote system.
Susie Mahmood, Swindon, UK

I used to think that Labour represented my views until 1997 and now I realise that all politicians are as bad as each other

George, Hull, East Yorkshire
I used to think that Labour represented my views until 1997 and now I realise that all politicians are as bad as each other. As my MP is currently the deputy prime minister I am hoping that a really outrageous candidate will stand against him and by voting for that candidate I count this as 'none of the above'.
George, Hull, East Yorkshire

Good idea, but if 'none of the above' wins, it could be because each party has something that would stop people from voting for them. You might vote for an MP because he is a good representative but you don't want his party in power.

Yes, add 'none of the above', and in addition make voting compulsory. This latter measure would guarantee interest and turnout. Don't forget that other national poll, the census, is compulsory too.
John, London, UK

I think that it would be a landslide for 'none of the above'

Dominic, London, UK
An interesting idea, but it would give us a problem. What would we do when no one votes for a candidate? I think that it would be a landslide for 'none of the above'.
Dominic, London, UK

Rather than 'none of the above' is it not time for some form of proportional representation? The refusal by this government and that other big party to permit any change is evidence of putting party before country, again and again.
Barry, Havant, Wessex

I am amazed at the level of apathy amongst the general public. Voting for 'none of the above' is only slightly better than being too lazy to make it to the polling station. If anyone feels that none of the parties represent them then why don't they join or form a movement that does.
Andy, Nottingham, UK

But then what do you do if 'none of the above' wins?
Malcolm McMahon, York, UK

Thank you for injecting some sense and humour into this ghastly election

Thomas Brown, Hampstead, UK
Good point, Nuns! This option would more clearly demonstrate the true feelings of the population to the politicians and country as a whole. Thank you for injecting some sense and humour into this ghastly election.
Thomas Brown, Hampstead, UK

What a great idea! We really need a 'none of the above' box on the ballot papers. I hadn't thought of it before, but as I approach thirty I realise that I have been feeling increasingly disinterested with British politics. For me, I think it is because the issues that I feel strongest about have been sidelined. Other people must have their reasons, too. Why is this the first time I've heard about this idea? It seems to make perfect sense. I am surprised it doesn't already exist outside Nevada, of all places.
James Welch, London, UK

On almost every survey I've ever filled out, there is always an option to say none of the above. It would certainly give a true reflection of how the voting public feels about candidates. Add proportional representation for those who really do get voted for (20% of the vote equals 20% of the seats) and we might just have the beginnings of a democracy!
Bob, UK

It's an extremely good idea. If we could also combine this with a system of punishments for politicians based on the level of apathy then we might even encourage some half-decent candidates!
Paul R, UK

I would certainly support the introduction of a 'none of the above' box. This strikes me as providing a positive vote, not a wasted/negative vote. Voting for a party you don't agree with just to stop a different party is a negative vote. Obviously there is never going to be a party to suit everyone. I am happy to make a compromise, but not to the extent that I support a party which also has key policies I very strongly disagree with.
Dave Marshwood, London

I resent strongly being grouped together with those who cannot be bothered to vote as apathetic

David Parkinson, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex
I am a lifelong socialist with a commitment to the public ownership of essential utilities, and to the re-distribution of wealth via the tax system. Since Tony Blair and his cronies hi-jacked the labour party I supported for 40 years, I am left with no candidate in my constituency whose stance I can support. In consequence I have decided, for the first time since I came of age, not to vote. I resent strongly being grouped together with those who cannot be bothered to vote as apathetic. It would be preferable for me if I could avoid being counted amongst the "don't knows" and "can't be bothereds" by the use of a voting option stating "none of the above"
David Parkinson, South Woodham Ferrers, Essex


The voters



The Media


Voters 'disillusioned'
Results of our Vote 2001 poll