Blame those truly responsible, Tony

Cllr Tony Cox is a bit right, and a lot wrong, in his critique of the PCC elections and the manner in which they were run.

The bit: he criticises the way these elections were handled and the poor turnout – right on both accounts.

The lot: his criticism misses the real target – unsurprising for a Conservative councillor as this would mean him damning his own government.

An election to any new post will always have a reduced turnout” – not true. For example, the London mayoral elections have had the following turnouts:

2000 34.43%
2004 36.95%
2008 45.33%
2012 38.1%

Three out of four of these elections have similar turnouts, only the first Boris versus Ken contest raised the level of interest.

The Scottish Parliamentary elections saw the following turnout figures:

1999 59%
2003 49.4%
2007 51.7%
2011 50.4%

Now, Tories will have to defend their policies, but they could at least attempt some rigour when it comes to verifiable facts.

What is inexcusable for me was the guidance given by the Electoral Commission in polling stations and on postal ballots as to how to fill in your ballot paper.” Poor guidance will account for some of the spoilt ballot papers, but it does not explain the low turnout. Tony appears to deliberately misunderstand English in his critique. The guidance clearly states “you can vote twice” – note ‘can’ and not ‘must’. This is clear enough for the vast majority voting and I have heard of no-one abstaining because that did not understand how to vote.

“These elections have without question have been conducted in a shambolic manor which would disgrace a banana republic.” I agree, but not for the reasons stated by Tony. I lay the blame fairly and squarely at the door of the Home Secretary. I think Tony should be calling for the head of Theresa May.

The poor turnout was caused by a combination of the following factors:

1, Dreadful timing: which idiot thought a November election was a good idea? (This is a rhetorical question.)
2, No tax-payer funded mailshot: this meant that many were unsure of who was standing and what they were offering.
3, Unwanted politicisation of the police: it was clear to me that many refused to endorse an idea they disapproved of by voting.

Unlike Tony I think the electorate is intelligent and adaptable enough to cope with the Supplementary Voting system. The election was a shambles – I have said this myself – but I put the blame where it belongs, and that is at the door of the Coalition Government. If Tony thinks that makes us a banana republic then he is more than welcome to join me and my colleagues in our attempts to remove them from office. Roll on 2015.

4 Responses to Blame those truly responsible, Tony

  1. Julian,

    As I have mentioned in previous posts on this subject the elections were shambolic and entirely agree that they should never have been held in November but in May of this year or next. There should have been a free mailing and the guidance in polling stations and with postal ballots should have been clearer in that to cast a second preference is optional. This also had the effect of people casting a second preference vote believing that they had to as well as contributing to the high number of spoilt ballot papers.

    I also believe that the supplementary vote system is crackers and whilst not perfect, the First Past the Post System is the best system that we have. All of the above factors in my view would disgrace a banana republic.

    As it was a newly elected position, regardless of what voting system was used I never believed we would reach the heights of a local government election turnout but all the above contributed to the woeful turnout of under 13% across Essex.

    The other point which is that all these factors have undermined what I believe is a sound policy of having somebody elected who is directly accountable for Policing. You should know me by now that I have never been afraid to agree or criticise a policy regardless of the political colour who has proposed it. To suggest otherwise, I think is a little sloppy on your part on this occasion

  2. Have look at the two recent press releases here – http://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/press-releases/ (Government responsible for feeble mandates and The Lowest Turnout in British History: Official)

    I doubt you complained about the Supplementary Vote when it elected Boris twice. FPTP is deeply flawed in my opinion, and I doubt you will ever agree with me on that (I am an ERS member and a supporter of proportional representation). Nick Alston can at least console himself that he passed the 50% when second preferences were taken into account.

  3. Julian, on the contrary, I also think the supplementary vote system is wrong or the London Mayoral Elections and worse still they use the pathetic counting machines which always go wrong. In 2000, there were 18,000 spoilt ballot papers in the Mayoral Election which was largely down to voter confusion.

  4. It does not surprise me that you defend first past the post – there is more than a hint of self-interest here, although if UKIP’s support grows you may be forced to reconsider. I am not sure why you mentioned the counting machines – this surely has nothing to do with the method of voting.

    Do you admit that the claim about newly elected positions always attracting low participation is not at all accurate? I have heard this trotted out by a number of Government spokespersons recently, and I wonder it has not been challenged as the facts suggest this is untrue.

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