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Letter to Editor: Reflections on abysmal turnout at local elections

Politics / Sun 9th May 2021 at 10:49am

ONE cannot help but notice the abysmal turnout in the local elections. More than 70% of the electorate has not taken part, leaving the field open to the same old tired cliques that have run towns, counties and the country for generations.

One does have the right not to vote but there didn’t seem to be a protest campaign. These cliques have decimated industry, the environment, manufacturing, transport, the nhs, housing and energy generation for at least half a century because of their lack of vision, ability to understand science and the environment and failure to plan into the future to make things better for generations to come. Rather they have been content to polute and wallow in the present and past at the cost of future generations. 

Parties are in danger of becoming irrelevant if MPs simply to the party line in Parliament. I am puzzled why the electorate has been so impressed with the vaccine roll out, perhaps it  does look good against the massive failures preceded and total lack of preparedness for a pandemic. But getting millions of items with a limited shelf life delivered on a cold chain distribution system is something our major supermarkets do every single day. The creation the vaccines was a phenomenal achievement based on international science over the preceding 10 or more years, not simply a sudden lightbulb moment in 2020.

There’s no excuse, the playbook had already been written years ago in 1918 and more recently when SARs hit the world. S Korea was prepared. The right to vote has been hard won at great cost, it holds power and sectional self interest to account yet the system that can deliver change for the vast majority of the population does little to ensure that the majority of the population takes part.

Might this failure of democracy be addressed if schools were to become places with effective student representation and elected school councils? Currently where school councils exist they are virtually a sham and students learn that whatever they say it makes no real difference, a lesson they take into adulthood. Where school Councils don’t exist students again get the message, the establishment doesn’t care. Both fail to set good examples. Simply teaching about democracy and voting doesn’t work, it’s generally very boring and rather like trying to teach someone to swim by describing the actions but never providing a swimming pool or getting into the water. 

Perhaps the young might take the lead, action and  support for Greta Thunberg came most noticeably from students in schools not our established political parties. The established parties perhaps prefer that 70 % don’t vote, they then don’t have to convince as many people to win elections. Has any government been elected with more than 35% of the electorate? 

What was interesting, disappointing, unethical and sad about the local election in Harlow was how candidates mixed agendas ascribing issues decided at County level to the town Council and vice-versa usually to do down opponents and then conflating these with National Government policies. A shambles of a system. Time for an entire rethink. 

Regards 

Edward Vine

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