Over the last few weeks there has been much discussion about voting. We’ve had the first Police & Crime Commissioner elections, the scandal of Ella & James being in the bottom two of the X Factor and I’m a Celebrity… with Nadine Dorries.
Police & Crime Commissioner Elections
The PCC elections had a turnout nationally of under 15%, with one polling station in Wales getting no votes cast at all. The election was run in November (it had originally been planned for May, the ‘traditional’ voting month in the UK) and cost £95m to run. One of the big criticisms has been the lack of information received about the candidates. A website was created to host the statements of all the candidates – but people didn’t seem to know it was there. Other people I spoke to took the attitude that if the candidates couldn’t be bothered to get in touch then they wouldn’t be getting their vote. Others didn’t vote because they did not feel the police should be party politicised – and didn’t fancy the independent candidates much.
I voted, and at 3.15 pm (the polls open at 7 am) was the 37th voter. My wife voted at 6.15 pm and was 47th. There was criticism from many places over the handling of the whole thing, but the thing that worried me the most was the very high level of apathy.
In America, according to John Grisham, the elect very nearly everyone. The introduction of a PCC to replace the Police Authority could well have been an experiment by this Conservative led government to see of there was appetite to do that with other roles – Local Education Authority, health care (which is to have more local determination). I don’t think it’s a plan for now, but it could happen in the future.
Two of the favourite acts on the X Factor were also recent victims of voter apathy. Judges, acts and viewers were surprised to find that Ella and James were in the bottom two. My theory is that most people thought they were safe, not factoring in the Liverpool block vote for Christopher Maloney (and maybe his £1000 phone bill). Now people don’t have to vote in the X Factor, and the judges/ mentors hope that people will but what was interesting was the number of people in my Twitter and Facebook feeds saying they would never watch again – although they hadn’t voted themselves…
I’m A Celebrity
Two worlds collided with this years crop of Celeb contestants, as serving MP Nadine Dorries entered the jungle. She was voted as one of two contestants to do the first Bush Tucker trial, however Helen Flannigan’s responses to the tasks soon took over. Dorries was then voted out first – receiving the fewest votes. This show is much more reactive – on the day Hugo was grumpy from lack of food he was rewarded with a trial of his own.
Voting is important, and could be increasingly so. It is a massive challenge of all of us involved in politics at any level to get people to vote. From local elections to trade union votes on strike action. We need to get as many people as possible to engage in the political processes so mandates are clear.