Terminal apathy

Here is an election result from yesterday:

Oxford City Council, Carfax Ward:

Lab 168 (May 2014: 448)
Lib Dem 101, (May 2014: 276)
Green 63  (May 2014: 483);
Conservative 24, (May 2014: 315)
UKIP 24 (May 2014: Loony 45).

And the bottom line: turn-out 8.6%.

Yes, folks, fewer than one-twenty-fifth of the electorate are now represented by their chosen party.

This is how we do things in England, under first-past-the-post. Ninety-odd percent of the electorate can’t be arsed to vote.

Of course there are extenuating circumstances. Carfax Ward covers the historic heart of Oxford. In term time the numbers voting could — should — be swollen by the students.

That in itself suggests further issues.

By the nature of things, at least of quarter of the student vote  will “churn”. Most students, who are not politically engaged, do not get involved in the affairs of the place where they spend half the year (except to patronise “convenience stores”, off-licences, pubs, clubs and similar low joints).

Oxford Carfax is an extreme case. On the same day, Folkestone Harvey Central Ward voted: turn-out below 23%. In Old Dean, Surry Heath: turn-out just over 20%.

The story is repeated weekly, as torpor and apathy are the main winners.

Time for electoral reform: proper electoral reform and single-transferable voting.

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Filed under Britain, Elections

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