Posts Tagged 'Elections'



The real London Mayoral election result

The people in London, who are actually registered to vote, had their say on Thursday about who they wanted to be Mayor.  Below is the official result, including the second preference votes where a choice was indicated.

The vote doesn’t take into account those people who had a mountain of opportunity to support a candidate but who decided not to vote for anyone.  When you include that number, the election result looks rather different (percentages rounded).

This is the state of politics today.  38.1% of those with the franchise saw anything worth voting for and went through the motions of supporting a candidate under the illusion the outcome would matter.

However at least 3,588,047 of London’s registered voters exercised their democratic right not to engage or select any of those on offer.  There will be a multitude of reasons why they chose not to.  But turnout in London was down 6.7% from four years ago, the last time the Mayoral election was fought.

The political process is failing people and increasing numbers are turning away as they recognise the fact that nothing they do will effect any kind of change.  They do not want anything to do with those who purport to represent them and claim a mandate to lead them.

It is time to stop looking at the percentage of the vote candidates secure, and instead look at the percentage of registered voters who actually engage in the process.  It is far more informative.  61.9% in an election is considered to be a landslide.  In this case, it is a landslide against the political class and politics in general.  Those in office do not have real legitimacy.  In years gone by an electorate excluded people based on class, title and gender.  The only difference now is those not having a say are self selecting.  They have disenfranchised themselves because they have no power.  We just need people to see that they can take power back.  It is within their gift.  It is their responsibility to do so.

The excitement and drama of election night

In years gone by elections used to matter.

Election night was a time for sitting in front of the TV and radio as results streamed in from around the country.  The people who were elected and the platform they stood on would have an effect on the way services were delivered and the spending priorities of authorities and central government.  The notion of a politician being rejected at the polls and therefore seeing their manifesto discarded was a powerful influence.

But for a long time now elections have ceased to be relevant.  When all that is on offer is the same product in a different coloured wrapping there is frankly no point going out and making use of the electoral franchise.  For the main three parties it doesn’t really matter who is returned by the voters, because the same agenda will be ruthlessly pursued and the wishes of the people won’t be allowed to get in the way.  Which is why local political campaigning on real issues is all but dead in more and more localities and paper candidates are increasingly the norm.

The result of this should be a rejection of the political class by the electorate, characterised by a refusal to go out and vote.  But there has always been a hard core of people who wish to use their vote.  However even that number seems to be experiencing a dramatic decline.  (Update: As Richard at EU Referendum puts it, ‘The indifferents have it’).  Bearing witness to this implosion is BBC News Online’s live text coverage.  Just a few of the comments lay bare the accelerating rejection of the political class:

… In Kingston-upon-Hull, reports turnout about to be declared at 18.7%.

… Reports that polling station in Ealing & Hillingdon, west London, had reported hardly anyone voting until parents started collecting children from school. Turnout was remarkably low even then.

… BBC Radio Derby’s Chris Doidge reports candidates in Derby say turnout is well down on last year. Official says postal vote returns down around 5%, indicating it is not just the weather.

… Early indications point to a record low turnout amongst Scotland’s four million voters. Councils will begin counting ballot papers tomorow morning with the battle for control of the country’s biggest cities expected to command most attention. 

… Alan Johnson, Labour MP for Hull West and Hessle, tells the BBC that he is “very disappointed by the turnout”.

… BBC Nottingham’s Steve Beech reports that turnout in Nottingham’s mayoral referendum was just 10.89% in one ward.

The impact of this?  It is likely there will be an increasing awareness among ordinary people that politicians who are imposing decisions on us are doing so with ever less legitimacy.  Especially given that despite what appears to be a much improved showing for UKIP where they are standing candidates, they are still not taking seats from the main three parties against the backdrop of a sharply reduced turnout.

… Andrew Sinclair Political Correspondent, BBC East reports that UKIP have come within 40 votes of taking a seat from the Conservatives in Great Yarmouth.

… Darren in Liverpool emails: Some excellent results for UKIP so far, a good number of second places they seem to be making good progress in local elections in recent years, despite a lack of coverage.

While many people may remain blind or ignorant to the fact most of our laws and regulations already lack legitimacy because they originate in the EU – imposed by people we have not elected or accepted and who are beyond democratic accountability – people are more likely to notice and take issue with the lack of legitimacy in their own towns and cities.  This is dangerous territory for the political class and the current ‘democratic process’.

Things cannot continue as they are.  Change is overdue and the refusal of the electorate to engage in the current process via the ballot box suggests the time may soon be ripe for a new settlement.  That really could provide a mix of excitement and drama – and not in the way the political class might hope for.  And with that, it’s off to bed to leave the BBC reporters around the country sharing the election news with an ever less interested and rapidly shrinking audience.

Rejecting political parties: A sign of things to come?

Interesting developments from the Republic of Ireland, where the Presidential election campaign has seen a previously rank outside independent candidate sweep to odds-on favourite to replace Mary McAleese (not Robinson as I wrote at 2am through bleary eyes…)

According to an opinion poll conducted by ‘Red C’, the candidates for Labour, Fine Gael and Sinn Fein are trailing in the wake of Irish ‘Dragon’s Den’ entrepreneur, Sean Gallagher.

The former Fianna Fáil man is running as an independent and his stock is rising rapidly with Irish voters who are deserting the organised political parties.

  • Independent – Sean Gallagher – 39%
  • Labour – Michael D Higgins – 27%
  • Sinn Fein – Martin McGuinness – 13%
  • Fine Gael – Gay Mitchell – 8%
  • Independent – David Norris – 7%
  • Independent – Mary Davis – 4%
  • Independent – Dana Rosemary Scallon – 2%

However not all is quite as it seems, as Gallagher is effectively running as an ‘arms length’ Fianna Fáil candidate.  He is a mere Indeplastic – a cheap rip off of the real thing.

That political party, knowing it would get short shrift from voters, does not have an official candidate and has decided the way forward is to get behind a proxy ‘celeb’ candidate.  It is a sign of weakness.  Clearly the penny is dropping in Ireland that the interests of the political parties are not the same as the electorate and that voting for the usual suspects doesn’t result in the changes they demand.  Fianna Fáil are wise to it, but will others change tack too?

If Gallagher wins the Presidency and takes up residence in the Áras it could signal the acceleration of the demise of political parties in Ireland.  While that might be honey in the ears of the unelected bureaucratic dictators of the EU, it could see more people step up as genuine independent candidates – the kind of people who still want democracy and can’t be bought off by Brussels.

One thing is clear in this political era, we are at a critical juncture and everything is to play for.  The question is, are we up for the battle?


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