Mark Latham, one time leader of the Labor Party, has caused a storm by advising voters to not mark their ballot papers at this Saturdays Federal Election. Given his political history his motives for this sage advice are unclear and not particularly important. What is important is the nature of his advice and the sharp reaction this has drawn from the commentariat.
This election has been widely, amost universally derided as appallingly drab with both the ALP and the Coalition offering very little difference in either policies or style. Indeed I cannot recall an election where even the commentariat have been so distainful of the defacto non choice being offered to voters or so open about it. And they have a point; the quality of “the debate”, of mainstream politics, even by bourgeois standards, is soporific and dreadful. If it could be distilled and bottled no one need ever suffer from insomnia again.
This is the arena in which Latham dropped his advice and where the same commentariat suddenly proclaimed the importance and the value of voting in the current environment and berated Latham for advocating to people to vote informally in protest.
This response is interesting. The objection is not to voting informally as such (journos and commentators can tut tut about this but it’s not that important). But to encourage protest, to stir things up with the implicit threat that this may become organised is a different matter entirely.