On Thursday this week Local Elections will be held in much of our country – do you have any hesitation about voting? If so, you are not alone because there have been a number of elections over the past few years, with more to come, and yet it is getting to the stage of the people thinking: what’s the point, what changes when we do vote?
Nearly three years ago, in June 2016, the British people took part in the greatest vote in our history, a Referendum of the people to decide whether the UK should Remain part of the European Union or should leave to become an independent country once more. The British people definitively voted to Leave, 52% against 48%, but have we left? Not so far, and it still looks as though the decision to do so is on a knife edge which is very dangerous for the way we shall be governed in the future. If we have a clean break from the European Union then yes, democracy will survive, for the moment at least. But if the Government fudges the break, gives the people Brexit In Name Only or decides to hold another Referendum, or indeed, refuses to implement Brexit in any way at all, then democracy is finished.
In 2017, the Government decided upon another General Election because Theresa May, the Prime Minister, insisted that a Strong and Stable Government was needed so that she could continue to negotiate the terms of a Brexit deal with Brussels from a position of strength. Sixty-eight percent of the British people went out and voted for the MPs and political parties they preferred, but our Prime Minister now has a Government which is far from Strong and Stable and a Parliament where many members of all Parties are still trying ensure that the UK remains within the European Union. But this is democracy.
If Brexit does not happen, if Britain does not finally and completely leave the European Union, was there any point in voting in the Referendum? Let’s be blunt: without so many British people voting for the UK Independence Party and thereby threatening the Conservatives (and others) with loss of their seats in Parliament, there would never have been a Referendum, no chance for the British people to ever put their views forward.
And now, having dithered for almost three years, the Prime Minister finds herself running up against the next European Election which was always set to be held on May 23rd, 2019. What is the Government going to do? At the moment Britain is due to leave the EU on 31st October, or sooner if a deal is agreed. So, if our country hasn’t officially Left the EU, does that mean it still Remains within it and will have to take part in this election? Are the British people really being asked to vote again to send delegates to a Parliament in which they no longer wish to serve?
Once again, the Government is dithering. While some political Parties have already started to campaign for the EU election, on the 23rd May the Conservatives first sent out a mass email saying that Britain would be taking part — before changing their minds on 28th April to insist that the nation could still leave the EU without going to the polls. So, again, will it be worth voting?
Many people are saying that on a matter of principle no Brexiteers should stand as candidates and no votes should be cast, but this would be a great mistake for it could then be considered as an excuse not to hold elections at all: no candidates, no votes, why bother? And this applies to all elections, including the Local Elections to be held this Thursday.
According to the Electoral Research Society’s report of 25th April, large parts of England are effectively democratic deserts, since 300 council seats have already been guaranteed for one party or individual before a single ballot has been cast. Also, about 150 councillors will win their seats without a single vote being cast because candidates are running totally uncontested. This means that over 270,000 potential voters will be denied the chance of voting for whom they wish to represent them in their area. So, if you want to maintain democracy in this country, new candidates must put themselves forward for positions of local councillors and, of course, for Members of Parliament. Join the party of your choice (UKIP, preferably, of course!) or even stand as an Independent with your own plans for your country or for your town or county.
And then there is the turnout to elections; the number of British adults who send a postal vote or make the effort to go out to their polling station to cast their vote for the person or Party they feel will best serve their interests in Local or General Elections. This is essential. If people feel there is no point in voting, that nothing changes, that the whole thing is a complete waste of time, what happens if only a half, third, quarter, a tenth of the eligible population vote? How low does the turnout have to be before the result is disallowed? And if this happens again and again in elections, how soon will it be before the Government, with relief, decides that there is no point in holding elections, either Local or General? How soon before democracy in Britain is finished?
So, for the Local Elections on 3rd May, for the European Election (unless, hopefully, the country does leave the EU before then) on 23rd May, and for the next General Election whenever that is, if we are still a democratic country and are still allowed one — PLEASE GO OUT AND VOTE!