It looks like the local elections are going ahead this May. The government believes that it has put enough steps in place to make them safe and secure. Some postponed mayoral elections, as well as the local Police and Crime Commissioner elections are going ahead.
Good. We need democracy (even if what we have is a poor variety) and without the opportunity to cast our votes then it is a pretence.
How will you vote? Well, of course you won’t know at this stage as you haven’t seen the candidates, don’t know their policies and haven’t given the whole thing your careful consideration. Right?
In truth you are not likely to vote at all. At the 2017 local elections in Northumberland an average of just under 41% of the electorate cast their vote. This means that nearly three out of five people who could have voted, didn’t.
The countywide picture hides a range of outcomes. The ward with the highest turnout was Hexham West, with an impressive turnout by local election standards of 60.7%. There, Derek Kennedy, an independant, was elected on a vote of 34.5%. At the other end of the scale, the ward with the lowest turnout was Hirst, ironically nextdoor to Hexham West alphabetically, with a turnout of 23.5%. There, Ken Parry, the Labour Party candidate was elected on a vote of 18.6%
This means that in Hexham West, the elected councillor represents 20.9% of the electorate while in Hisrt it is a mere 4.4%. This is not representative democracy.
Why don’t more people vote? I don’t know, I wish I did but this is a dangerous situation. Not only do we have people in positions of authority that represent a small proportion of the populace but it shows a disregard or disinterest in local politics. Yet local politics is the breeding round for national politics and a disinterest in one leads to a disinterest in the other.
I am asking you to do three things in the coming elections:
- Get out and vote
- Encourage everyone you know to get out and vote
- Think of ways that might encourage more people to get out and vote.
Please! It may not feel important but it is. The very future of the county and country depend upon it.