Many think ‘what’s the point of vot­ing’

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Your -

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,

Gun­thorpe, Peter­bor­ough

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