Compromise, sacrifice and confusion: why I didn’t vote

Lisa McKenzie

Lisa Mckenzie

by Lisa Mckenzie, author of Getting By; Estates, Class and Culture in Austerity Britain.

“I didn’t vote in this election, which for me was the right choice, and a choice that is seldom given debate to within the national media.

My reasons were this: our political system asks us to vote for members of parliament to represent us in Westminster. I didn’t want any of the people on my ballot paper to represent me.

I also don’t think the system of parliamentary political party politics is truly democratic. It serves the greater good, it compromises what individuals believe in order to serve a middle, a mainstream, and a mediocre. It always has to sacrifice something, and someone, and the sacrifice is usually those with least power. I cannot endorse that.

“…the sacrifice is usually those with least power.”

The Labour Party have annoyed me for a long time (forever actually) but especially over the last two years.

I have been involved in many grass-roots organisations and campaigns and I know how difficult it is to keep people’s confidence up when they are having all kinds of institutional power thrown at them from all spectrums of political ideology.

However over the last two years this situation has become much worse, with the internal fighting of the Labour party. Many Labour supporters as well as politicians have taken sides and instead of being an opposition to the Government that has caused so much misery to the poorest people in the UK, they have opposed each other.

“…instead of being an opposition to the Government that has caused so much misery to the poorest people in the UK, they have opposed each other.”

Added to this has been the partisan nature of the Labour Party that has refused to engage in campaigns that are in struggle with local Labour councillors, MPs and mayors.

The housing struggle in London that I have been part of is a good example, if there are what we call ‘safe political seats’ that rarely are challenged, the status quo is whoever is sat in that seat.

In London, in the poorest communities, it has been Labour councils that most housing e15campaigns are literally at war with. These campaigns have gone unsupported recently by the Labour party and have been asked to ‘go easy’, or put their campaigns on hold until after the ‘leadership election/leadership election/general election’. I fear they will go unsupported again as the Labour Party ask for ‘unity’ until the next general election. By this time some of those who I have supported in their housing campaigns will be homeless.

In some ways I am pleased that the Labour Party’s manifesto was well received by the electorate. It was a manifesto of hope for some – tuition fees being scrapped is an important policy for the whole of society, and ensuring children are not hungry at school is another. I did feel that the middle class would do better out of Labour policies than any other group, although that isn’t new to British politics.

The conclusion of what started off as a pretty dull campaign is far from dull – in some ways it is quite terrifying – but it is a bloody mess.

The Labour Party lost but thinks that it won, the Conservatives won but also lost and is now in the process of doing a deal with Northern Ireland Conservatives that have a social ideology which includes anti-abortion, and lack of civil rights for the LGBTQ communities that we cannot entertain in any way.

“I will continue to do the politics that I have always done: on the streets and within the grass-roots, encouraging the powerless to shout and be heard.”

The Conservatives are putting their own interests in their power base before safety, and peace for all of us in the UK and in Ireland. The Good Friday agreement that brought an end to sectarianism in Northern Ireland insists that the British Government is impartial; this clearly cannot be the case if the DUP are supporting the Government in an official agreement.

I may not have voted, but I will continue to do the politics that I have always done: on the streets and within the grass-roots, encouraging the powerless to shout and be heard.


Lisa Mckenzie is author of Getting by; Estates, class and culture in austerity Britain and co-author of Building better societies: Promoting social justice in a world falling apart. Both can be ordered at with 20% discount.

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