THE BLOG

I Didn't Vote Yesterday, And I'm Furious

06/05/2016 11:39 | Updated 06 May 2016

I didn't vote yesterday. I don't suppose that makes me unique; quite a lot of people didn't vote yesterday, some because they were prevented and others because they couldn't be bothered. For me however it was different, and it was a big thing.

For the first time in my adult life I chose not to vote.

Bear in mind that I regularly lecture younger people, such as my kids who are a captive audience, about the responsibilities of voting in a democracy. "It is your duty to exercise your franchise" I tell them, regaling them with tales of the struggles to gain the vote, the importance of holding those in office to account and so on. But yesterday, one thing overrode all of those important factors.

For the first time ever, I felt that they didn't deserve my vote.

I had the opportunity to vote for my local Police & Crime Commissioner but felt, after careful soul searching, that I couldn't support any of the candidates.

Why? Quite simply because I had no ideas who they were, what they stood for or why I should vote for them.

Now perhaps it's me. Perhaps I live in my own little bubble but I didn't see a single thing about these elections other than a polling card which has been stuck to the fridge for over a month. Knowing that elections we're coming up I was on the lookout for any literature to help me understand who I'd be voting for and why.

Nothing came through the door. Nothing appeared on TV. I heard nothing on the radio and saw nothing on any of the local channels I use to access news. There was nothing on Twitter, nothing on Facebook and nothing on billboards.

Not one candidate held a public meeting that I was aware of, not one of them bothered to knock on my door and come the day of reckoning I was none the wiser as to who was even standing.

Frankly, that's a disgrace.

In this day and age of 'instant' communications, of always on internet and connectivity like never before, surely there must have been a way to inform people what was going on? My local Farm Foods even managed to door drop me twice before the election which was twice more than any of the candidates.

When I worked in advertising we used to talk about TVR's, eyeballs, reach, engagement and a whole load of other ways of measuring who your campaign had been seen by. Frankly, if this was about who had engaged me most in the last month I would have to say Matalan might end up as my Police & Crime Commissioner.

The first time the PCC were elected I remember the fuss, the leaflets and the publicity surrounding the votes. I even knew one of the candidates and what she was standing for. This time; nothing.

I am quite prepared to accept that it could be me. Perhaps I was being unobservant. Perhaps I have subconsciously filtered out all the noise around elections and maybe the flyers did come through the door and hit the recycling without being read. If that's the case then the problem is mine, but canvassing others I know it seems I'm not alone.

On the face of it, either the appointment of a Police & Crime Commissioner is either not at all important or democracy is breaking down. I guess the results will tell us what we need to know. My bet is that the wining candidate, whoever they are, will get no more than a couple of thousand votes in total. Given that the represent the whole of Cheshire that's hardly a mandate. In fact, it's no more than a hollow victory with little more legitimacy than those of African dictators.

Where does that leave democracy and where does that leave the ordinary residents of Cheshire? You could blame us for getting the candidate we didn't vote for, but I'd point straight back and say that these elections might as well have been held in secret.

This is not the system that my parents and grandparents fought to create and it sure as heck isn't democracy.

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