Should Voting be Compulsory? (Sky News), Sean Gabb

On Monday the 26th May 2014, Sean Gabb, Director of the Libertarian Alliance, took part in a Sky News debate on compulsory voting. Chaired by Kay Burley, he was opposing a proposal put by Suzy Boniface.
Sean made these points:
  • We live in a Potemkin democracy. However we vote, we still live in a police state ruled by parasites and traitors. Not voting is effectively a vote against the system. Let the turnout drop far enough, and it brings on a crisis of legitimacy. That is its function. Also, if it does drop far enough, those of us who still vote give a big push to parties like UKIP. That changes nothing, but is very embarrassing to the ruling class.
  • Compulsory voting papers over the cracks. Indeed, add it to state-licensing and state-funding of political parties, and the lie is restored that we live in a functioning multi-party democracy with high levels of support. Sooner or later, we may turn from grumbling to counting the lamp posts in Westminster. But that will be for another generation of parasites and traitors to worry about.

Miss Boniface responded to these points with a spray of insults and alleged facts cribbed from Wikipedia.


  1. I have to disagree. You say ” Let the turnout drop far enough, and it brings on a crisis of legitimacy”. With respect I feel you are mis-using the word ‘crisis’. That implies a decision has to be made. We appear to be quite content to serve under an illegitimate government, and what is more, we happily vote the bastards back into office.
    Not voting changes nothing. The way to register a protest is to spoil your ballot paper. Or indeed, as I did when faced with the prospect of Francis Maude as my MP, I stood for election against him (1997, 2001, and 2005, for UKIP).
    I often say it is the fault of the voters that this situation pertains. If voting were made a legal obligation, then voters would have to register the fact that they are AT FAULT by failing to do so. I’m not advocating locking people up, but it might give them pause for thought. And it might avoid situations such as the European election, where the number of people who failed to vote out-numbered voters by almost two to one.

  2. At least you were not insulted personally (being called a loon doesn’t count – that’s for wimps) and the station didn’t turn your mike off.

  3. I’m normally a fan of Sean’s media appearances, but I thought he went a bit far for a general audience in this one with the police state, lamp posts stuff. But then I am not a PR guru.

    Miss Bonnyface was not interested in a discussion anyway, she just had a list of points to make and stated them. She’d have said the same things precisely if the question had been “what is your favourite cheese?” or “is there life on other planets?” and so on.

    • Oh, I thought my tone was rather moderate. But I’m not a PR guru either. My policy is to go on telly and then see what is uppermost in my thoughts.

      • I don’t think it matters whether you are moderate in tone or not Sean (the establishment mouthpiece you’re debating is not listening anyway), as long as the message is accessible to people who are capable of thinking in a libertarian manner. Items like this will plant a seed in the minds of a few viewers, and that’s a win! I don’t think these are messages that will ever make sense to a general audience in our lifetime, so you might as well call it as it is, and win over the real potential libertarian minority. Call a spade a spade, and a police state a police state! As illustrated here, they won’t pause to call you a “fringe looney”!

  4. Sean, You did well presenting a great subject & one fiercely resisted by the members of the cult of the state. I like your point about low turnout creating a crisis of legitimacy. Here’s what I wrote about nonvoting a few years ago:

    Principled Nonvoting: The Beginning of Disengaging From the State

    “…the perception, that voting equates to freedom. The reality is that nothing could be further from the truth. The fact that we are allowed to choose our dictators doesn’t make us any freer. It merely gives voters the feeling of power and the illusion of control. All the while they are being manipulated into supporting a government that implements policies detrimental to their well being.

    “What better way is there to get people to follow the law and pay taxes than to convince them that these things are their will? What better way is there to get people to tolerate the government’s evils than by convincing them that the situation is temporary and that they can change the government at the next election? What better way is there to get people to respect elected officials than to convince them that they, the people, chose these scoundrels to represent them? (A mandate, it’s called.) None of these things are true, but the fraud works. Democracy is held to be the best form of government yet devised. The question is best for whom? Certainly not the people.

    “It does work best for the ruling elites who can hide their evil plans behind a smiling democratic facade.”

      • Voting doesn’t matter, as long as they can tax us they can control us. When we can “vote” by withholding our money we’ll have liberty.

        • But they’ll always be an us/them, patrician/plebs etc.
          What form of government, if any at all, are you in favour of ?

          • Mick, being a libertarian anarchist I want voluntarily financed & hired institutions to provide the minimal governance needed. The problem with govt as we know it is the initiation of force. By being able to force funding for their operations they don’t have market signals, profits & losses, to guide them. This would make a govt of angels go wrong. Now make it a real world govt of sleazy politicians & it’s a disaster. Putting govt services on the market would solve many of those problems. I’m not saying it would be some kind of utopia but it would be much better than what we have now.

    • Well said – though I generally do vote, I understand the reasoning of those libertarians who don’t

  5. Darren. I need to read more about libertarianism to fully understand the implications of what you’re implying but it seems to me it would be passing the buck to corporate goverment rule which I can see as being even more of a menace to its citizens than a representative democracy. That said, I’m not fully appreciative of all the aspects & forms of the libertarian mindset. I’m all for the reduction of a centralised power base but it seems an impossible undertaking given the political environment in the West.
    Do you think a direct democracy could be a step in the right direction ?
    It should by definition decentralise government & give more rights to the individual.

    • Mick, It seems to me that we have “corporate government rule” now. Corporations are creations of govt & thrive because of govt regulation. What I’m advocating is taking their power away. If you want to read something on the subject of a stateless society:

      Society without a State
      by Murray N. Rothbard

      “I define anarchist society as one where there is no legal possibility for coercive aggression against the person or property of an individual. Anarchists oppose the state because it has its very being in such aggression, namely, the expropriation of private property through taxation, the coercive exclusion of other providers of defense service from its territory, and all of the other depredations and coercions that are built upon these twin foci of invasions of individual rights.”

  6. Is this Boniface creature the same Daily Mirror hack who was outed by Jemima Khan as a “vile anonymous troll …who rifled through Cameron’s bins for his disabled son’s nappies and then wrote a story about how they weren’t eco-friendly so didn’t that prove he was a hypocrite to go on about green issues?”

    A gutter journalist in the most literal sense.

  7. Interesting panel on “direct democracy,” in particular Prof. Richard A. Epstein’s remarks (he is the second speaker). One panelist thinks the results in California have been positive. Prof. Epstein’s comment to that is pretty forthright. :>) Includes Q&A. Informative and entertaining.

    There’s also an 8-page pdf in which Prof. E. summarizes his arguments above, at the Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy:

  8. I will read the link tonight at work. Question springs to mind.
    Who gets to use the “force” in the “defence” of an individual ?
    If someone was to attack me for no reason & he was 6’5″ & built like a brick ‘outside loo’, what would be the post implications for the attacker in this society ?
    I’m assuming we’d still have a judicial body, magistrates etc.
    Apologies, if this all seems a bit obvious. I’m sort of working in the dark my end & self teaching myself a bit, so I’m playing catch up on almost everything.

    • Mick, No apology necessary. Certainly an individual can use force in their own defense. They can also make voluntary arraignments with others to protect them (private security, neighborhood groups).

      Law has in the past & can be again provided privately. Arbitration today is an example of that just as Lex Mercatoria of the Middle Ages was. There was also the Irish Brehon law. Parts of the 19th century American West developed private systems of law, namely mining camps & wagon trains. These are just some of the examples that we can use to guide us.

  9. Why liberals should not vote is that government is illiberal and a vote is proactive or gratuitous coercion against others.

    But we may vote liberally if our vote is likely to negate the negation e.g. aid tax cuts or to roll back the coercion of the state in some way. When we have won a majority over to pristine liberalism then democracy may well become very useful in getting rid of the state.

    I doubt if liberals will ever, Lenin-like, seek to hang anyone from lamp-posts. That was just Sean in a Romantic mode. We are not like the backward immoral politicians. We will sack them, that is all.

    • David, yes I agree, we would sack them. But that’s just the beginning of their adventure.

      It does not take full account of the fact that wrong decisions, perpetrated deliberately and on purpose, and designed on purpose to hurt others – such as “progressive taxation” for example, or even “socialism” – or Wilson’s “Selective Employment Tax” – are therefore objectively evil and wicked, and deserve punishment.

      It might be sufficient, for the main part of the “Public Sector” employees, to terrify them, if they are merely sacked. The vast majority will form “internet cream pie direct” little firms, the running of which they will have no clue about, and nearly all of which will go bust inside a year mostly. But their “Chief Finger Men” will require different forms of “resettlement”. These are the Oxford-PPE-graduates and similar bastards from other emulating establishments, and who have “got into positions of power”.

      Since none of these will ever recant or say “sorry” (because they can’t) then they will “have to go”.

  10. Hi,

    I noticed you didn’t have a video recording of your appearance on sky news. I had it recorded, so I’ve uploaded it to youtube for you.


    • Wow, what an awful woman. It is like listening to a machine gun going off. She hardly stops for air.

      That she cannot understand how she is being a mouthpiece for the state shows the level of perception she has. She also has to resort to crude smears and insults, multiple times, which again shows the nature of this woman and her plans.

      I did notice a cheeky smile on Sean’s face once or twice as he rightfully lets loose his cynicism and tiredness of this nation’s political mechanics. It was similar to the face of a naughty schoolboy dropping a stink bomb in the studio lol. It is too tempting not to, I suppose.

      Yes, some of it may have been a bit shocking to some viewers, but that is probably because they don’t have even the concept in their mind that there is something wrong with the system itself, not just party policies.

      No doubt this journalist believes she is in some sort of struggle against men, against patriarchy, against stuffy conservatism, against all the usual suspects that these people imagine to be dominant in society – and thus imagines that they are representatives of the sole rebellious streak that will finally break these awful, awful things down……

      …..where in reality, these people have been in charge of societal shaping for the best part of the last 80 years and that, if anything, they are just rebelling against the older actions and policies of their own bedfellows!

      As for Kay Burley, she is only famous in my circles because of her reporting on the London Riots a few years ago.

      This is where she was presented with some “unfortunate” first hand accounts that are not very “PC” and decided to try and make out that this eye witness did not really see what he had seen!

      It is a TV classic, if one is interested in these little things where the hermetically sealed narratives get briefly punctured for a moment. It only lasts a minute, but the scuttling around to diffuse what had been said is telling of how things are these days.

    • Surely you mean “low orbit”? Their gunnery-directors would see more than three or four times as much detail then.

      If it’s gas-lasers, you want to be a low down as you can be. If it’s proper space-based-particle-beam-weapons, then it doesn’t matter about how far away you are: your gun-director staff just need to be able to distinguish their targets finely enough, to within error radii of under 2 metres ideally.

      You want to be able to “lase” the gents’ toilet, the main one on the right of the thrid floor staircase, just at the moment when most of the GramscoFabiaNazi dude males have “gone to have a slash”.

      • I’m using tungsten rods – pure kinetic energy projectiles. My gunships are advanced beyond your feeble technology and, in any case, as necessary drones can send targeting information from in-atmosphere.

  11. It’s always invigorating and encouraging to see or hear the libertarian point of view being expressed on mass media. Full marks to Dr. Gabb for being ready, able and willing. As Bruce Forsyth used to say, “Didn’t he do well?!?” (“and I mean that most sincerely”). Here is a link to another brave voice eloquently putting the libertarian view: Walter Block on TV to make the case for abandoning the minimum-wage law. He did well, too, I thought:

  12. The use of extreme terms (see Sean’s first paragraph) undermines the case (making it sound silly – which it is not).

    “But Paul you use extreme language as well” – do not do as I do, do as I advice.

  13. My Reply to David Davis.

    Thanks for your criticism, David.

    Democracy is not a superb ideal as the lady Sean took on imagined but a petty illiberal abuse of others, as I said above.
    However, I doubt if we will waste time and money punishing backward politicians. We all do what we do quite deliberately, as Thomas Hobbes rightly said, but the idea that a state is needed is folly, but not criminal folly. Some abuses are not criminal. Lying usually abuses others but few would ever hold such abuse to be criminal.

    Progressive taxation is done on the idea that it is fair in some way, and it is thought that the state needs money and that we all need a state. The stage the LA took the liberal line of thought to displays that all this as mere error, but not that it is criminal activity, no more than the deliberate killing of others in war is murder. It is, perhaps, not far from it, but nevertheless not quite criminal for the motivation is not usually, if ever, criminal or malicious. We might even truly say that it is worse than crime, just because it is often good people doing bad things that we might expect them never to otherwise do, but it is still not malice aforethought crime, even though you tend to say that it is, David. I think that you simply get that wrong.

    Most do not see a mere vote as coercive action against others, the lady clearly never has yet thought of that, but that is what it is, of course. It is nearer to a female-like slap in the face that she might have delivered to some of her courters than to a masculine punch but it is coercion none the less, but it is not a crime.
    Harold Wilson could not see the perversity of the selective employment tax, he simply did not realise it would push mass unemployment up to that dreaded million figure that it has remained at, or above, ever since, a thing that has fooled so many such that it has almost maintained itself, but was not necessary, even for a week, given proper market clearing wage rates, rates that have now been outlawed by the minimal wage laws, another bit of stupidity, that the fools in the House of Commons mainly do not even begin to understand the folly of.

    Clearly, as we roll back the state, the people who work for it, will be sacked. They will soon find real jobs on a free market. Potential jobs are quite infinite, as Julian Simon makes clear in The Ultimate Resource (1981; II 1996). This book remains the best introduction to economics as it truly is. Henry Hazlitt Economics in One Lesson (1946) was knocked into second place by the Simon book.

    What has happened to potential new jobs in the world in India and China in the last 20 years, now they have both finally joined the world’s division of labour, lets us see how many jobs can emerge, despite big states largely remaining in the way, as we also saw, up to about 1970, in the UK, and as the coming, according to radio 4, some three million workers from Poland alone to the UK around 2005 even showed a few in the labour Party that the million plus on the dole need not be there, after all.

    But why would we terrorise those who worked for the state? We are pristine liberals, not terrorists. I fear you are lost in sheer Romance there, David, as was Sean.

    We punish to deter but on rolling back, or getting rid of, in part or whole, of the state by use of the knowledge being beforehand being spread amongst the general public, that we liberals of its anti-social nature, so we need no deterrence, for we abolish or partly cut back the harmful institutions, that alone give rise to the sheer folly of crass politics. It is not a folly that we all should indulge in as the lady Sean opposed seemed to suppose. Indeed, once seen as folly, none will ever want to indulge in it, as Plato might have told us. But what Plato had to say on morals remains all Greek to most people today.

    The Oxford PPE viz. philosophy, politics and economics gives us a sandwich course where the “bread” on each side of the folly of politics should educate any student to see that politics need to be, at least, cut back, if not dumped completely, but few students go to the extreme of meshing or vying the ideas they learn against each other. Most students remain oddly unreflective in that respect.

    But it is enough to get rid of the positions of power, David. Once gone, no one can fill such positions. We then, clearly, have no need of deterrence. The chance of illiberal activity will have vanished or at least cut back to the extent that we can cut back on the institutions of the state.

    We do not need politicians to say sorry. They will certainly have to go when we are successful, but only in the sense of being sacked.

Leave a Reply