Many think ‘what’s the point of voting’
IN a recent ET feature, Cllr Swift said he was desperate for people to get out and reverse the trend of falling voting figures. He said the electorate turnout in 1954 was about 70 per cent.
In Peterborough’s recent local elections the average turnout was only 31 per cent. (The lowest turnout was 18 per cent in the Orton with Hampton ward).
In contrast, the turnout for the recent French elections was a staggering 82 per cent. This is a figure that politicians in this country can only dream of.
Adrian Miners has bemoaned the fact that we have a city council elected by a minority of the people of Peterborough and that “something has got to change”. Adrian believes the answer is compulsory voting.
However, I believe it would be preferable if people actually voted because they wanted to. The trouble is, some of our politicians fail to face the facts. Many of our councillors are held in very low esteem by large sections of the electorate. Over recent years we’ve endured maverick councillors who’ve made preposterous statements (some of which even featured on national media) and earned us the title of ‘Pottyborough’. We’ve had a number of politicians convicted of fiddling their finances.
We’ve also had others who’ve proposed nonsensical schemes which could (and sometimes have) wasted council tax payers tens of thousands of pounds.
And there is of course yet another aspect.
Some voters wonder what is the point of electing councillors, now that so many city services have been privatised and therefore cannot be democratically controlled (such as schools, libraries, sports centres, museums, waste collection, street cleaning and recycling).
And of those who believe we need elected councillors, a large number still do not vote because they perceive their vote will make no difference.
At least in Europe, due to the different voting system, every vote counts. Here in the UK it only counts if you vote for the most popular candidate. All other votes are wasted. So the prospect of increasing voter turnout looks bleak.it could improve if the decision making practice became more democratic and if the voting system fairer. But I doubt that either of these will occur.
RICHARD OLIVE, Beauvale Gardens,