The little black box

When on holiday in St. Helier, Jersey and having time to kill before our departure we visited the island’s museum, situated opposite Liberation Square. Anyone who knows just a little of England’s history, the significance of Liberation Square in the capital of one of the Channel Islands would not be lost on them.

One of the smallest of exhibits on show in the museum was a wooden box which was probably the most important item on display.

[I] was reminded of this time spent during our sojourn to Jersey when seeing the ‘demonstrations’ in London by those who felt that the Referendum had denied them their futures.

But first down memory lane: When a few days before my 28th birthday, I along with 17 million others, on a 64 per cent turnout bothered to register a vote to stay in the Common Market.

Now 40 years later on a 72.2 per cent turnout those between 18-24 years-of-age 64 per cent voted to remain, but unlike previous generations only four in ten bothered to registered a preference on whether to leave or remain.


So back to Liberation Square and that little ballot box. In front of the exhibit was a small description which should be read by everyone who now wants a rerun of the Referendum:

Hardly an inspiring object, as it stands. And yet, the immense principles for which this innocuous wooden box stands have inspired the weak to greatness and shattered the strong to dust. Millions have fought and given their lives in its defence.

Think, then, as you contemplate this historic object: what price would you put on the freedom to vote?

Ian Ronayne

Think again all of you who did not like the result; didn’t understand the consequences; or were just too lazy to turn up and use the stubby pencil provided; we should always ensure that the majority view is enacted upon and the minority view respected. We owe it to all those – from Suffragettes to soldiers – who have fought to give us the privilege.

2 thoughts on “The little black box”

  1. Some would argue that the right to vote includes the right to refrain from voting. If one cannot decide which way to vote – perhaps because one finds the issues too complex or none of the options acceptable – what is one to do? One can enter a blank return but the result of that is exactly the same as not voting. By abstaining, one in effect hands one’s proxy to the majority opinion.

    Many feel that politics is a game played by the political elite which involves the people only reluctantly and as seldom as possible. For example, we are now being given a new Prime Minister – the political head of our country – and our opinions on the matter are not even consulted. We cannot vote on this issue even if we want to and yet it is a matter at least as important as the question of whether or not to remain in the EU.

    Giving people the vote is important but it is only the beginning. Voters need to understand what they are voting for otherwise the whole exercise is no more meaningful than tossing a coin. The citizens of this country are NOT politically educated. No attempt is made to educate them politically and, in fact, the opposite is true. A large section of the population thus feels alienated from politics and, rightly or wrongly, sees not voting as a way to register its alienation. Some might say that that is a valid use of the ballot box.

    The ballot box may be a symbol but it is only a symbol. The box is merely a tool; what counts is what you do with it. Unless and until we have an electorate that understands political issues and feels included in political life, voting will remain a fatuous exercise whose consequences may be good or may be bad but will in any case be random. Only an idiot would ask a politically untutored public whether or not it wants to stay in the EU and only an idiot would abide by the result of that vote. Is idiot politics what we want for this country?

    If the answer to that question is no, then we need a profound rethink of our political system and how it involves the people. Only then, perhaps, will we give back to the ballot box the significance and dignity that it should have.


    1. Your contention is not dissimilar from Georgian England, when landowners were allowed to vote, but others were deemed not to have a vested interest in who governed them and well, women shouldn’t worry their pretty little heads about such a complex subject.
      Should we now only allow those who have a degree in political science, or at the very least have studied politics up to A Level vote?
      As someone who for nearly a decade was involved in the production of Lord’s Hansard I can tell you that those ennobled were, with a few notable exceptions, pretty hapless and looking at the shenanigans afoot in the Labour party at the moment whose in the Westminster Bubble don’t understand our voting system of first past the post.
      Should we now have another Referendum? And if the result is 52 per cent for Remain and 48 per cent to Leave then have another as a best out of three?
      Unfortunately we have to work on a system we have, whether we like it or not and to paraphrase Churchill “Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others”.
      Thanks for taking the time to comment on CabbieBlog.


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