So, the UK council election results are in, and, overall, Labour are the big winners of the night (at the moment, not all the results are in) with 1093 councillors. They were also the only party to make gains – everyone else lost seats, and lost big, with the Tories and Lib Dems losing something like half their councillors. As it stands right now, it’s looking like a textbook hammering.
But then estimated turnout was around 32%, which is what bothers me. At what point does turnout drop so low that we can’t be said to have a functional democracy anymore? It can’t be much lower than a third of the adult population, surely?
But I sympathise with many who didn’t vote. I don’t believe this was down to apathy, but rather a significant number of people just not finding anyone to vote for. After all, you’d be hard-pressed to say that political discourse in this country is inspiring – at the moment it basically boils down to Murdoch and no money.
The counter argument is that if you can’t find anyone to vote for, there’s always someone to vote against. This tends to be my current philosophy, but it’s hardly inspirational – yes, it stops the racist bigots clawing their way to power, but what happens once they’re out the way. It’s necessary, sure, but it doesn’t paint an intriguing picture of the future. Beat the bigots and you’re left with a sense of relief, but relief will never be as powerful as hope.
I don’t know. I’m no pundit. But we can’t go on like this, floundering for someone to vote for and letting our national cynicism triumph over any possibility of change. Because it looks like, this time at least, voting has made a difference; maybe not a difference you or I are fundamentally inspired by, but a difference all the same. That’s got to be worth anyone’s vote.