Supporters of the party to have received most votes in yesterday’s Local Government elections will now have to face the reality that they have no representation. ‘Turnout’ for the Apathy Party accounted for almost 70% of the electorate and as a result indicates a massive disengagement with the current crop of politicians, regardless of colour. In practice councillors who will be taking important decisions about the delivery of local services will be claiming that they have a mandate and represent the majority of voters, when in fact they have the backing of perhaps less than 20% of their electorate – self-delusion on a grand scale. The trouble is that as long as voters stay away from the polling booths in such large numbers we will all continue to have to suffer the results. It is so sad to think of all the dedicated people in the past who struggled long and hard, and in many cases gave their lives so that we could live in a relatively free society with the opportunity to vote freely in elections. Failure to use our vote is in fact the greatest of insults to their memories.
I may be quick enough to criticise many of the actions and decisions taken by our elected representatives, particularly when they act like sheep and dutifully follow party whip instructions – but at least they have been willing to put themselves into the firing line, I certainly wouldn’t wish their job. I feel that I have a licence to be critical as I have posted my decision into the ballot box; at times I often feel that there should be a ‘none of the above’ option, or that I might simply spoil my paper, but at least I feel that if I have taken part I have the right to complain. Perhaps it is time that we considered a system of compulsory voting. The fact that referanda to determine views on having elected mayors in a number of cities have tended towards rejection of that idea, is also rather telling.
If it is possible to take anything from the results already, and still to be declared – let it be that politicians accept that they do not have a strong mandate and perhaps start to behave in a more co-operative and less confrontational manner. At present the default seems to be if the other party is is favour, we must be against! I suspect that many don’t vote because they don’t believe it matters who is in control, they are all equally untrustworthy and incompetent – sadly the good and honest politicians get ‘tarred with the same brush’, something must change. Is it possible rewrite this old slogan – ‘It doesn’t matter who you vote for, the government always gets in’?
At the time of writing counting has yet to start in Scotland – will there be a more positive outcome – or will ‘winning’ councillors here be elected with equally low support?