What do the election results tell us?

Labour won 2158 seats, Conservatives 1005  and Lib Dems 431. Congratulations to Labour on their success. Thank you to all those outgoing Councillors who have worked hard and who now have been asked to stand down.

SNP and Plaid came fourth and fifth, with the Greens picking up 40 seats in sixth place, or fourth place amongst UK wide parties. The English Democrats lost their  2 Councillors and UKIP made no net gains, staying with 9.

This leaves Labour controlling  75 Councils, the Conservatives 45, the Lib Dems 6 and SNP 2. No other party controls a Council. Turnout was a very low 32%.

All parties and anyone who believes in democracy should be worried that 68% did not think it worthwhile voting. There was plenty of choice on the ballot papers in many places. If people still did not think there was sufficient choice they could have stood themselves. So why was there such a mass abstention?

As readers of this site never tire of explaining, they do not think the current generation of politicians are up to much. Some think it will not make much difference who wins. They fear that a combination of EU and UK bureaucracy leaves little scope for political decision making that can make a positive difference. People on the left think all the main parties are signed up to too much capitalism. People on the right think they are signed up to too much big government. Some think that despite localism, Whitehall still calls a lot of the shots for Councils.

Many people feel squeezed. They associate politicians with taxes and higher public sector charges. Hearing of the debts and deficits, there is a sense of helplessness or a shrug of acceptance that most politicians will end up charging them. This explanation is supported by the resistance in all but Bristol to the introduction of new elected Mayors. The most common reason given to vote “No” was that they would put the costs of government up, leaving us with bigger bills.

Others just say they are not interested in politics. In some areas  they do not see that they can have any influence, or they do not want to spend any time finding out if there are any important differences. Some  people will say they know nothing about it or are not interested.

Politicians want to believe there is an easy fix for all this. They hope that a change of voting system, or a change of titles and powers, or some other constitutional reform will make a difference. So far the introduction of differing voting systems for European and devolved elections have not boosted voter turnout. The elected Mayor of London has stimulated some interest, but still more than half the voters do  not think it worth bothering. Only postal voting has made some difference to how many people vote.

Of course it is up to all the parties to find a way to show people voting does matter, and it can make a difference. Labour were the overall winners on Thursday, but even they did not  poll that many votes and found it difficult to get big numbers out to back them.

The Conservatives in Coalition need to wrestle with the main problem that was present on many doorsteps. People feel their living standards have been squeezed too much over the last four years. They want the government to reverse this, to tax them less and take some of the inflationary pressures off their budgets. Labour’s better results in 2012 as they admit do not guarantee them an election victory in 2015. Their gains were no more than other parties made in Opposition prior to losing the next General Election. Nor should the Coalition think that this is automatically just a mid term dip. Economic recovery is what the public rightly want. The next couple of years will determine whether we have a sufficient one. That will have an important impact on how people vote in 2015.

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  1. lifelogic
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:34 am | Permalink

    What do the election results tells us?

    Cameron sense of direction is 180 degrees out people do not want big government, pro EU, anti growth, over regulation, tax borrow and waste on the PIGIS, quack green drivel. He is going to bury the party like Heath and Major did.

    Boris only just won- he did very well to given the socialist Cameron’s direction as a back drop. He was sound on the EU, small efficient government, the green tosh, freedom and regulation.

    Boris also took votes from UKIP as he is considered sound on the EU issue.

    Siobhan Benita got very good support too – she is sensibly in favour of expansion at Heathrow. The 5 runway Heathrow and Gatwick Link is the way to go. The M25 needs to be enlarged too.

    No positives other than Boris for the Tories and only three years left. It could be so different with a new compass for Cameron.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

      Clearly it is rather hard to get the 68% (who did not think it worthwhile voting) to bother to vote. After all, cast iron, fake EU sceptic and no tuition fee, politicians clearly do not do what they promise anyway. Voters, with the current voting system, have to vote for the least worse option who has any chance of winning or stopping the even worse alternative (Livingstone). In the case of Labour and Cameron what is the difference – they are both pro EU, tax borrow and waste, fake green, big state socialists.

      The 68% are behaving fairly rationally given the system that pertains.

      • Nick
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:01 pm | Permalink

        Make their vote count for something. In other words let them vote on issues.

        Constitutional changes aren’t issues.

        Start off with tax. Have a referenda on tax increases. Have a referenda on more debt. [Make sure you tell people what their share is off all the debts]

      • Tad Davison
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        The best news clip I saw throughout the entire election coverage, was of a man from the North-East.

        He was asked by the interviewer if he had voted?

        He replied:

        ‘No, the country is already in a mess, and I wouldn’t want to make it worse!’

        That was an absolute gem!


    • lifelogic
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:11 am | Permalink

      I see that Ministers are says they will “continue with the deficit reduction plan” despite the predictable results.

      But do they actually have one? If so when will it start and will it reduce government spending and waste – or just as now continue to close down the private sector?

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

      Well said.


    • zorro
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

      Didn’t ‘cast iron’ Dave look happy (not) standing next to his party’s only real success yesterday. Boris Johnson was smirking whilst DC looked as if he was chewing wasps whilst ‘celebrating the success’ of Boris’s victory….

      ‘He is going to bury the party like Heath and Major did.’…..Unless, of course, he is buried first. The Leveson gig is still ongoing, and I see that Guido is reporting that Kelvin MacKenzie has had a £1,000 punt at 10/1 on Cameroon leaving the scene by the end of the year….hmmm….


      • lifelogic
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:26 pm | Permalink

        Kelvin MacKenzie will lose I am sure – it will take longer than that. Cameron is very flexible and will flex in the wind as needed.

        • zorro
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:08 pm | Permalink

          He’ll need to be flexible to avoid the pots and pans possibly….! I never did like texting…


    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

      Can anyone explain why some people were allowed two votes in this election?

      I’m sure I read somewhere that departing from the sacred principle of “one man one vote” would destroy our democracy, and moreover babies would die.

      Oh yes, here it is:


      “Our current tried and tested voting system gives everyone one vote and delivers clear outcomes. The Alternative Vote is a complicated, expensive and unfair system that gives some people more votes than others.”

      “Defend one person, one vote.”

      (That’s what I meant, of course; not “one man one vote” but “one person”.)

      • sjb
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:24 pm | Permalink

        The entitlement to two votes seems to be for people with second homes, Denis. [1] So “one residence, one vote” might be more accurate 🙂 However, the person needs to have a sufficient “degree of permanence” to make it onto the electoral register.

        [1] Entitlement-to-register (see ‘Second homes’, para 4.13)

        • Denis Cooper
          Posted May 6, 2012 at 2:51 pm | Permalink

          Clearly that one’s missed its mark, as least for you!

  2. Mick Anderson
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:45 am | Permalink


    If one good man could make a difference, why has your sensible approach not made more improvement in the corridors of power? You have years of experience, and know where to look and who to talk to. You are already there and established.

    Even if all the like-minded regulars on your blog started the process today, without the backing of a major Party, we have virtually no chance of achieving better than a post on the local PCC. With the backing of a Party, we might possibly become an MP in a decade or so – far too late to fix the disasters we see now, and personally I wouldn’t survive in a Party system that I disagreed with for that long anyway.

    So, although you are quite correct that we spend a lot of time carping from the sidelines, actually starting the process of becoming the next John Redwood is a futile excercise.

    If you look at the people at the top of both Parliament (all three significant Parties) and Westminster, it is stuffed with multi-millionaires who have made a career of becoming a minister or a mandarin. They have no concept of the real world outside SW1, and would prefer not to find out. In the unlikely event they ask someone, it will only be some sychophantic SpAd who wants to be just like their master. The EU is an amplified version of this. Those at the top have the power, and will exclude us if we ever try to join their club.

    Politicians want to believe there is an easy fix for all this – yes, except for the fixes that don’t suit them, like dismantling their power-base and genuinely working towards a smaller state. The taxpayer has more than done their bit; we’re overdue for the politicians to start doing theirs.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

      Good post

      • Mike Stallard
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Permalink

        Postal votes need reforming fast. They are becoming a national disgrace. How do I know? I don’t. Only guessing.

        I remember my Dad complaining in the 1970s that local independent councillors were rapidly being replaced by party hacks. That has happened now. The county council here at least is packed with semi-professional politicians. Then there is the local district council which, guess what, is packed etc. Then there is the town council which is packed with local chiefs. And all are drawing enormous salaries and expenses. We pay. Voting? It doesn’t matter since anyone can remember it has always been Conservative. and that is how God made the world.

        Finally powers are being drawn away from local and county government as we speak by Whitehall. Ever heard of the School Academy programme? Or the constant calls for the amalgamation of Police and the concentrated HQ for Firepersons?

  3. colliemum
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:47 am | Permalink

    Good compilation of reasons why people didn’t vote – but leaving out the most important one: voters have had enough of the mass-produced politicians of any party, who talk in ‘spin’-speak. Voters are realists and have had enough of political tribalism when the obvious results in their daily lives show that it doesn’t matter whom they vote for because their decisions are always red-tinted.
    And yes, we now know that far more of the decisions made locally as well as nationally are taken because of EU directives.

    You write: “If people still did not think there was sufficient choice they could have stood themselves.” – my first impression was that here speaks the disgruntled politician …
    I am sure you know full well how hard it is to stand as independent, and that such candidature will immediately have the full force of the big party machines fighting that lone candidate.
    In the end, I think anybody who stands as candidate locally or nationally must stop fearing their party ‘managers’ less, must stop using ‘messages’ and ‘narratives’ which had been decided at party headquarters, and become more independent.

    It is not the ‘apathetic’ voters who are at fault. IMV, it is the perceived attitude of those living in Westminster Village, politicians and MSM, which puts people off.
    Here’s a withering description of this, which politicians would do well to read and take on board:


    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Bob Spink told me pretty much the same thing. He is a brave man of principle, but the machine turned on him. There’s something intrinsically rotten with the whole system. Personally feel broadcasters and newspapers should give the lone individual and smaller parties a greater say.

      Tad Davison


  4. Andy Man
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:49 am | Permalink

    At the last general election we were offered a choice between Labour federalism, tax and spend and Conservative Euro caution and public sector cuts. Clearly people were not massively impressed with Dave and co but Gordon managed to lose the election anyway so we were then promised cuts and some measure of backbone in Europe.

    What we have actually got is more tax, more spending (especially on wars, Brussels and foreign aid) more regulation and weak, insipid leadership.

    Is it any wonder that people do not think it’s worth voting?

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:27 pm | Permalink


  5. Kevin Ronald Lohse
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    First bit of common-sense I’ve read in the wake of Thursday’s elections.

  6. alan jutson
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:58 am | Permalink

    If you do not vote, you cannot moan!


    Why, because it means you really do not care who wins power over your life.

    The right to vote was hard fought and hard won, even if you simply make a protest vote, for a candidate who you think would not stand a chance, you at least have taken part, and then have a right to moan.

    • alan jutson
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:37 am | Permalink

      Given the very low turnout John, do you think our main Party leaders have got the message.

      The people out here are seriously fed up with having little or no improvement in any of our real problems.

      Someone needs to get real and control, and get control fast, at the moment events seem to be running the policy, not the other way around.

      • A Different Simon
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        Anyone know if the turnout of less than 1 in 3 is a record ?

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:58 am | Permalink

      I don’t agree with that.

      True, if you feel that none of the candidates merits your support then you can make the gesture of spoiling your ballot paper, but the time and effort required for that might be better spent on “moaning”.

      Or, in the case of many of those commenting here, “articulating a well-reasoned critique of current political, economic and social developments”.

      In connection with which, there’s a delightful letter in the Irish Times today:

      “Sir, – I have received my copy of the stability treaty.

      Conscious of the importance of the referendum required to adopt this treaty; Desiring to play my part by making a fully informed decision; Bearing in mind that important developments in European politics will affect the future of the treaty and its implementation; Taking note that there is significant obfuscation on both sides of the issue; Recalling the futility of some previous referendum outcomes; Noting the unreliability of all political parties with regard to pre-poll statements, promises, and commitments; Stressing that I have not made my mind up on the issue as yet; I have decided on the following course of action: if the Irish Government persists in its decision to hold this referendum on May 31st I will not vote; to do so would be to participate in pig-in-the-poke politics.

      I can see no sufficient reason why this referendum should not be postponed until the political and economic situation in several significant European countries becomes clearer. – Yours, etc,


      But I think he should vote, and in protest against the “pig-in-the-poke politics” imposed by the Irish government he should vote against what they want.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:55 pm | Permalink

      I didn’t vote, because there wasn’t a suitable candidate. My beliefs haven’t changed, and neither have my values, but those of the Conservative party have. Frankly, I’m pig sick of a party that continues to con us they are true blue, when really, they are pale pink. I cannot in all conscience vote for a pro-EU party any longer, and at one time, I would have given my life for the Conservatives.

      Tad Davison


    • zorro
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

      If the system cannot persuade 70% of the voting public to exercise a view, it is the system which is at fault. Consider the 70% abstention a negative vote against the current set of politicians…..


      • alan jutson
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 6:54 pm | Permalink


        I suppose I was lucky, many years ago we had the Monster Raving Loonies to vote for in our area, and they did indeed get my vote for a couple of elections when I was absolutely frustrated with all of the other Party’s policies.

        But do remember political Party’s are not bound to represent all polices and views of the electorate.

    • zorro
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

      Of course you can moan. Your decision not to vote or spoil the ballot is an opinion on the current system. An Englishman can always complain and exercise his view, it is his birthright….


      • Single Acts
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

        “An Englishman can always complain”

        Some high profile prosecutions of ordinary people strongly suggest otherwise

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

        Indeed you might not vote simply because you know it will achieve nothing or there is nothing to separate them or they will not do what they promised anyway.

    • Baldwin
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

      Well said.

      I have the old fashion view that it is your civic duty to take an interest in current affairs and vote for the least harmful option.

      Whilst Cameron and Osborne need to up their game, I still prefer them to the toxic alternative, Labour.

  7. Norman
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:20 am | Permalink

    As one of the vociferous decriers of politicians I’d somewhat want to try and justify myself and say that individually I’m sure a lot, if not most, are perfectly decent and hardworking people. It’s the system that is rotten to the core. I can make the distinction but its when politicians talk patronisingly down to us is when it boils over.

    Yesterday, perfect example, Cameron ‘we will not be distracted but carry on bringing down the debt’ as he mortgages our and our childrens futures.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:42 pm | Permalink

      Agreed. Every time a cabinet minister opens their mouth about reducing the debt when they are inceasing it by 80% it makes my blood boil. Then they wonder why we don’t want to vote for them.

      • Nick
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:37 pm | Permalink

        80%? If only.

        Think 1200%.

        They omit the debts such as pensions and assume they can spend 100% of everything earned on payments.

      • lifelogic
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

        Perhaps we need an MP app for their new ipads. Just to illustrate to MPs the state sector debt increasing every minute, the losses on the pigis loans, the number in the state sector that do nothing useful (or far worse) and the money wasted on all the green tosh, HS2, pigis and all the other barmy plans.

    • zorro
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

      ‘Bringing down the debt’….Either he hasn’t a clue what his government is actually doing or he is confusing debt and deficit…..incompetence or ignorance….take your choice.


      • lifelogic
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

        Or deliberate misleading perhaps. MPs seem to think “misleading parliament” is a very serous offence but MPs misleading the public seems to be standard practice every day.

        Before election “misleading the public” seems very common indeed – is this not obtaining pecuniary advantage by deception and is this still perhaps criminal I wonder?

  8. Alan Wheatley
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    For the vast majority of the electorate politics is likely but a small part of their lives. So come an election it is impossible to decide who to vote for based on an understanding of all the issues and an analytical judgement of the merits of the candidates.

    The task is not helped by the fragmentation of the political structure. Once upon a time there was the national government and local elections at county and district level. That was challenging enough to understand the division of responsibilities. Unitary Authorities was a move in the right direction, but complexity dramatically increased with the EU, plus regional parliaments, elected mayors and the ECHR.

    Matters are further complicated by claims made by politicians as to the significance of the results: for instance why should a good result for Labour in local elections be an endorsement of Ed Milliband?

    And then there is the House of Lords. The three main parties are agreed on some form of election to the Upper House, but what makes them think the electorate want yet another voting task imposed upon them? Low turnouts should give them pause. They might even come up with the novel idea of finding out what the electorate would like before making a decision.

  9. waramess
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:15 am | Permalink

    There is no choice as the results plainly show. There is no Conservative Party, just a bunch of shysters leading the Party who call themselves Conservatives but unashamedly wear the clothes of the Socialists.

    The Conservatives must now wake up to the fact that if they wish to offer Socialist solutions then if those are the solutions the electorate prefer, they will elect the real thing.

    This should not be a policy of what the Consseervatives have to do to get re-elected it must be about giving the electors a real choice between left and right solutions to the current problems.

    Having both parties offering the same thing is excrutiatingly boring and is bound to lead to a disinterest in politics.

  10. Stephen Almond
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:16 am | Permalink

    “So why was there such a mass abstention?”

    See here for an explanation. I think Brendan’s the last 2 paragraphs are superb:


  11. S MacDonald
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    What I want from the Conservatives is highly competent government – I am not getting it, and that is why I would have the most serious difficulty in deciding (for the first time in45yrs) whether or not to vote, were there to be a GE this year.

  12. merlin
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:30 am | Permalink

    The key to the next Conservative victory is definitely the economy, if the economy improves significantly the Conservatives will get a good overall majority. Economic growth does not always follow government action as has been shown recently and forcasting growth is a dangerous game. Historically though the Conservative party have a good track record with the economy and usually reform it after labour have spent all the money, so I am reasonably optimistic that growth will occur before the next election and the conservatives will get a good overall majority.
    Congratulations to Boris who has produced a deserved victory in a labour city, a remarkable achievement although the bookies had already paid out and the result was not that surprising.
    The local election results will benefit the conservative party in that they can hopefully learn from them and if necessary modify their political stance, but I still think that the austerity package is essential if they are to win the next election.
    The only way that we can renegotiate our position in Europe is to have a good overall majority of Conservtive mps in the uk parliament, so winning the next election is a key moment.

    • zorro
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      ‘The only way that we can renegotiate our position in Europe is to have a good overall majority of Conservtive mps in the uk parliament’…..Really…..Oh I see does that mean that the Eurosceptic Conservative party will vote en masse to renegotiate the UK’s position in the EU. How come when they are in government now they can only muster 80 MPs to bark at the current direction of travel.

      Anyone who thinks that a majority Cameron led Tory government even with a 200 seat majority would have acted any differently is deluding themselves. As John says, the votes aren’t there and they still would not be there with more Cameroons in Parliament (given the control over selection)…..This government is not Eurosceptic (please don’t talk about the Lib Dems unless you are controlled by their small number of MPs).


  13. Antisthenes
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:37 am | Permalink

    By 2015 there will not be much growth if any at all. The euro-zone is already in tatters and if Hollande is elected could see it’s total collapse even if it muddles through it will further hamper economies. The UK and the EU and it’s member states persist with economically unsustainable social democratic policies that are keeping taxes too high and are also continuing to heap up draconian regulations. Regulations already in place are suppressing wealth and job creation. Economic mismanagement is causing debt to rise, inflation to become a real threat and is not allowing proper allocation of capital. So even if the Conservatives discarded some of the dead weight around their necks the Lib-Dims and moved further right assuming Cameron would allow it it is too late to turn things around. 2015 will see no improvement so most likely less approval for the Conservatives so that the loons will be returned to government to complete the destruction if the euro crisis has not already done so. I always contended that it was wrong for the Conservatives to take the reigns of government after the last election and that Labour should have been left in power to complete what they started. After which the populace would have embraced proper right wing policies with open arms and the left would have been disgraced for a generation or more. As it is it will be the right that once again will wrongly take the blame.

  14. MajorFrustration
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:41 am | Permalink

    Yes I suppose some people do associate politicians with higher taxes and higher local sector charges – but thats not all. Additionally, people associate politicians with failed promises, with all talk and no action -“we will go only making difficult decisions” (play it again Sam) failure to listen, not forgetting really great pensions and subsidised food and booze. As they say in Texas “all talk and no cattle” Can you wonder at the low turnout. Perhaps the change in attitudes of corporate shareholders to excessive pay and benefits will percolate down to the ordinary voter who might be stimulated to seek value for money from their politicians.

  15. sym
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    I think they tell us that when placed in a situation of voting Conservatives and getting Labour policies, as voters have been since the last general elections, it’s best to stay home or vote the real thing. I won’t even go into the scandals, sleaze and incompetence exuded by this administration.

    Clearly, when you get something closer to Conservative policy, and a fairly clean and competent delivery, as is the case with Boris, the result turns out differently. Not discounting his charisma, but charisma alone isn’t all. For example, I’ve been following the French elections and the incumbent, a much more charismatic and articulate figure, is getting his butt kicked by one of the most uncharismatic, often incoherent, usually unpleasant and rude, wielder of dodgy “Robin Hood” policies challenger. So it’s not charisma alone.

    I have to say, as much as I dislike Labour, I’m looking forward to a crushing Tory defeat in the next election. It will give the party a chance to get rid of the disastrous Cameron/Osborne duo.

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

      Ssshh, Don’t tell anybody, but I heard from a good parliamentary source that Cameron is just an opportunist. I won’t name and compromise my source, but I’ll do the next best thing. I swear on the lives of my three kids that it’s true!

      Tad Davison


      • Mick Anderson
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

        I always felt that Mr Blair chose to join the Labour Party because he calculated that by the time he had risen through it, it would be “their turn”.

        Perhaps Mr Cameron made a similar choice. His leadership of the Party certainly doesn’t seem to be based on any sort of Conservatism.

  16. Brian Tomkinson
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:46 am | Permalink

    You omitted to mention the significant drop in the size of the Conservative vote. Contributors to this blog warned of this for weeks before the elections. For many this was in exasperation at the failure of your party to deliver after two years in office and to show almost daily incompetence. Please don’t remind me that you are in coalition, according to Baroness Warsi 80% of what you have done has been Conservative policy. The reactions from your cabinet colleagues, particularly Warsi, Pickles and Hague, was a mere shrug of the shoulders and more or less to say that it wasn’t so bad and what they expect at mid-term. How inspiring!
    This may fit in well with part of Cameron’s ambition to widen the appeal of the Conservative party by dropping the core vote. Will he now become even more determined to try and attract Labour voters by going further towards their policies? Do Conservative MPs care about how the country is governed or are they content with just being lobby fodder? If it is the latter then don’t expect those who this week, often for the first time, decided to withdraw their support for your party to return to the fold.

  17. oldtimer
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:05 am | Permalink

    The coalition would be better advised to consult on and then introduce reform of the postal voting systen to reduce the abuse possible under present arrangements than waste time on House of Lords reform.

    The coalition could, if it had the will to do so, make an instant impact on the cost of living by removing renewable obligation charges from everyone`s electricity bill and abandoning carbon pricing.

    It could cut the deficit by cutting the aid budget. Among the monstrosities is this programme reported by the Guardian, link here:
    Apparently this programme has caused deaths and miscarriages and goes on to say:
    `Yet a working paper published by the UK’s Department for International Development in 2010 cited the need to fight climate change as one of the key reasons for pressing ahead with such programmes. The document argued that reducing population numbers would cut greenhouse gases, although it warned that there were “complex human rights and ethical issues” involved in forced population control.`

    My reaction on reading this was outrage. Why is UK taxpayers money being spent on such programmes?

    • Tad Davison
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

      Cameron says his ministers must do better. Hail the master of the under statement!


      • Brian Tomkinson
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

        What does he think about his own performance?

    • zorro
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:30 pm | Permalink

      Agenda 21


  18. Paul Danon
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    This was just a redistribution of power among the three socialist parties. The significant development is Lord Mandelson’s suggestion of an in/out referendum on the EU.

    • sjb
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:09 am | Permalink

      The poll mentioned by Mandelson shows 67% support staying in the EU.

      What may come as more of a surprise (or shock to some readers) is “68% would be more supportive of Britain integrating further if they thought it would help the UK economy.”

      • A Different Simon
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:58 am | Permalink

        I’ve come across this mistake belief myself when talking to people .

        They are so disillusioned with UK pollis that they are ready to give the EU a chance – and will be ready to give extremist politicians a chance too .

        The three biggest anomalies between reality and their perception are :-
        – they (incorrectly) believe the EU stands up for workers rights etc and is good for them .
        – they cannot see that the point of a “single market” is to undermine things that they hold dear like the N.H.S. and dismantle them
        – they cannot see that the EU is basically a construction of the big multinational corporations i.e. Hitler’s definition of national socialism .

        • uanime5
          Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

          1) The EU stands up for workers rights far more than the UK Government. The EU introduced the the prohibition on working 48 hours per week, the UK Government opposed it.

          2) The Conservatives plan to dismantle the NHS because their major donors are healthcare companies that will benefit from this.

          3) Utter nonsense. The US Government is far closer to being a construction of multinational corporations than the EU.

        • colliemum
          Posted May 5, 2012 at 8:31 pm | Permalink

          It’s not that they can’t see it, or are too uninterested – this is due to fact that for forty years politicians have ingested and acted on the advice of a FO mandarin, to pooh-pooh the obligations and the ever closer ties to the EU already planned for – with regionalisation/mayors all planned, as as sop to the people.

          Last Sunday Christopher Booker wrote about this in the DT – his comment is still available.

          Another thing which nobody of our politicians, never mind the MSM, ever mention is that the EU regards its directives and treaties such as the EMS as binding for the states – not the government du jour, but the state. So how can a government get out?

          People will care about the EU and our membership if told the true circumstances.
          But from our elected representatives and the MSM all we hear is ….. crickets.

      • Denis Cooper
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:23 am | Permalink

        Don’t you agree that it’s a nonsense for pollsters to ask people to choose between four options, two of which don’t exist, and can’t exist, and so won’t ever exist?

        “36% of people think Britain should stay in the EU but only as a member of a free trade area, 18% as we currently are but with no further integration, and 14% of people say the UK should stay in the EU and play a full role in any further integration. A third think Britain should leave.”

        Technically the EU does not even provide a “free trade area” to which the UK could belong; even if it did, the arrangements for trade are only a small part of what the EU is about and if it was reduced to that core then it would no longer be the EU as constituted under its treaties. Therefore the 36% have been misled into choosing a non-existent option.

        Similarly it is not possible for a country to remain in the EU “but with no further integration”; clearly the 18% who chose that non-existent option have not yet fully understood that the EU treaties require EU member states to commit themselves to an unrelenting and unlimited process of “ever closer union”, inevitably leading to their eventual extinction as independent sovereign states, but that is the reality and no EU member state can hope to escape that process.

      • APL
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:39 am | Permalink

        SJB: “if they thought it would help the UK economy.”

        Interesting, I wonder how that poll would go in Greece now. Do you think they would believe that the EU is helping their economy?

        Spain, with 45% or so, youth unemployment. I wonder if most people would think that the EU is helping their economy?

        • uanime5
          Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:49 pm | Permalink

          Perhaps you should ask the Greeks how many want continued EU bailouts. Those who want the bailouts obviously believe the EU is helping them.

          Given that only Spain has 45% youth unemployment it’s more likely a problem caused by the Spanish Government than the EU.

      • Alan Wheatley
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:58 pm | Permalink

        Interesting link sjb, thanks.

        Of course, the “68%” are simply saying yes to something attractive – there is no account taken of the likelihood of the attraction coming about.

        I also note 86% would support the UK remaining in the EU if the UK/EU relationship was more to their liking, but as that option is not available they will remain dissatisfied as long as the UK is in the EU.

      • Tad Davison
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:15 pm | Permalink

        Ah, but that’s the caveat. How the hell could that possibly help the British economy?


      • forthurst
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:46 pm | Permalink

        If you look at the poll, it reports 33% in favour of leaving and 36% in favour of staying in but only as part of free trade area. The latter option is hypothetical since it would not be possible to ‘stay in’ and opt out of virtually the whole package in practice; that would mean being out but having a mutual trade agreement which the first category did not say they didn’t want.

        As to the 68% in favour of further integration if it helped the UK economy; that is a hypothetical question also designed to get a positive response.

        Interestingly, 79% identified themselves as ‘English’, so the anti-English campaign of NuLab and the BBC is yet to bear fruit. When asked, “Which of these nations would you say Britain has most in common with culturally, politically and economically?”, the majority responded the USA (48%), rather than Australia (28%). Obviously most people haven’t been groped by one of Janet Napolitano’s goons yet.

  19. Iain Gill
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    yep the “none of the above” party won big time didnt it

    the political class should hand their heads in shame at the gap between them and the population

    • A Different Simon
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Let them eat cake .

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

      They should but they won’t and they will carry on regardless.

  20. Single Acts
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:22 am | Permalink

    In one ward in this part of the world, there was a might 18% turnout and the elected councillor was liked by about 10% of the electorate, from memory, some 245 people.

    Some may regard this as a legitimate mandate.

  21. NeilMc
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:23 am | Permalink

    The people just want ‘fewer’ politicians. The cost is irrelevant as politicians will squander that money anyway.

    Tony Blair had been highly popular but left it until he was unpopular to introduce mayors. He also appointed Prescott to lead the process. A sure fire loss all round. Cameron waits until he is extremely unpopular and appoints Greg Clarke to, lead it.

    It’s actually a good result for the Tories as there is only one Boris. All other Mayoralties would have gone to socialists and entrenched cronyism not extended localism.

    As ever Cameron is clueless. His reading of the problem will be to move further to the left to pick up all those Toynbee votes. If he’s there in 2015, Ed Milliband will make No.10 and the Tory backbenchers, constituency workers etc, know it. He is unfortunately a serial loser.

    • lifelogic
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:50 pm | Permalink

      ‘fewer’ politicians indeed – hence the lack of support for more Boris Mayor all over the place.

  22. Jane Lom
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    People are not voting because they do not trust politicians. We want politicians who not only do what they say they are going to do but live their lives in accordance with their own policies and are transparent with the electorate. We are sick of spin and politicians who have lifestyles that bear no resemblance to our lives .

  23. StrongholdBarricades
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:25 am | Permalink

    Didn’t the BNP lose all the seats that they re-stood for, and had no elected cllrs this time?

    Great to see the BNP defeated in Marsden

  24. George Stewart
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:34 am | Permalink

    John, Doncaster a Labour bastion did not reject elected mayors, they enthusiastically decided to keep on electing mayors!!


    Note, the current mayor is neither Labour, Conservative or Lib Dem…..he is an English Democrat that is basically hated by the Council.

  25. Bob
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:39 am | Permalink

    “Labour won 2158 seats, Conservatives 1005 and Lib Dems 431.”

    Or put another way, the Tories had nett losses of 405 councillors and lost control of 12 councils.

    UKIP held their ground, and increased their vote.

    Congratulations to my second choice for mayor, and good riddance to Livingstone. Well done London!

  26. Atlas
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:59 am | Permalink

    I think the recent revelations concerning Cameron, Hunt and News Corp have laid the accusation of sleaze at this Government’s doorstep. The fact that Cameron is now going to get at look at Brookes’s e-mails shows that he is a worried man. This may partially account for a low turnout.

  27. Neil Craig
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    68% is, as you say, an abysmal turnout.

    Much of this must be because councils really have little power except to rubber stamp directives from Parliament or Brussels.

    However another part of it must be that though “There was plenty of choice on the ballot papers in many places” our openly corrupting electoral system means, as you point out, that the choices on the ballot paper (UKIP getting 14% od votes and hardly any seats for example) are not reflected by who gets appointed. The system is loaded to make sure you get Lab/Cons with a smidgen of LudDims. It is not difficult to understand why most people might feel it not worth participating in that sort of charade.

    Reply: UKIP did not get 14% of the votes. Overall it polled a small single figure percentage. It did not stand in most wards. It got 1.96% in the London Mayoral election. Some say it got an average of 13% in wards in England where it did stand – I will try to get some figures.

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:56 pm | Permalink

      Reply to reply
      Why are you so obsessed with UKIP when you keep telling us how ineffective they are? If you concentrated on persuading your leaders to carry out the Conservative policies which they seem happy to have abandoned but have been adopted by UKIP you wouldn’t need to fret so much.

      Reply: I am not obsessed with UKIP. Quite a lot of the bloggers on this site are “obsessed” with UKIP so I seek to explain to them the true position UKIP finds itself in.

      • outsider
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:30 pm | Permalink

        Dear Brian Tomkinson,
        As an outsider sympathetic to UKIP, it seems to me that Mr Redwood’s analysis of the party’s local election performance is spot on. At this electoral level, UKIP is still a party of protest, yet it failed to add a single one to the nine seats it was defending (one gain, one loss I think). That is an abysmal failure. It should have put a lot of effort into the London mayor/assembly election, because 11 of the 25 assembly seats were elected on a purely proportional party list. It was only necessary to gain a little over 9 per cent to win a seat. Yet UKIP managed to marginalise itself by having its named candidates standing under a completely different party identity (Fresh choice for London) . That is incompetent. I do hope for the nation’s sake that Mr Farage will instigate some serious constructive thinking to attract more politically serious young activists and focus on selective targets rather than allow UKIP to go through a round of fissiparous bickering.

  28. Denis Cooper
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:42 am | Permalink

    “Only postal voting has made some difference to how many people vote.”

    Including those who exist but aren’t eligible to vote, those who did exist but have died, in some cases in their home countries, and those who have never even existed.

  29. A Different Simon
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:43 am | Permalink

    John ,

    People are committing suicide because they have no chance of making ends meet .

    It’s only a matter of time before some depressed invididual takes the life of their young family .

    When people think they’ve got nothing to lose they become desperate and do desperate things .

    Wouldn’t it be better to stop our country descending into chaos than just rely on the police to beat the poor into submission 36 months down the line ?

    Be absolutely sure that is what we are heading for .

    The financiers in London behave like prima donna’s and think we are lucky to have them and that the cost for ensuring their safety , no matter how provocative their actions , should be socialised onto the little people who pay taxes .

    My experience of software projects is that things only start heading in the right direction once you let the prima donnas go and are then “all in it together” .

    • Christopher Ekstrom
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:00 am | Permalink

      Starting with prima Donna number one: Davey SamCam!

  30. NickW
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Politicians from all parties have shown time after time that their manifesto promises and the promises they make in speeches are utterly worthless.

    That is why there is no point in voting; nobody believes anything that politicians say; choosing between three different liars is impossible.

    A return of truthfulness, honesty and integrity would go a long way towards lifting turnout.

    Boris got re-elected because he is seen as a spin free zone; a politician who has the courage to say what he believes is right regardless of the consequences, and without continual reference to focus groups.

    On the whole, people are left with the impression that politicians no longer have any beliefs or principles whatever, and will say or do whatever is necessary to gain power; that is the founding principle of Blairism, (also adopted by Cameron).

    I exclude Mr Redwood from this criticism, he strikes me as a politician who has principles and keeps to them.

    (I DID vote in the local elections, we are fortunate enough to have a very good Independent Councillor standing for re-election, who circulates regular e mail newsletters to anyone who wants them and is completely straightforward about his beliefs and principles, and whose actions are clearly guided by those beliefs and principles. He got three times the votes of his nearest opponent.)

  31. rose
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:04 am | Permalink

    As I see it, our recent political history has been one of monsters growing, and then being displaced in reaction by other monsters: so Mrs T got rid of union abuse in local government and replaced it unwittingly with bloated managerial bureaucracy. The idea was that ratepayers would be better served by these managers putting the maintenance out to contract, instead of being held to ransom by the TGWU and co. The best value for ratepayers was to be sought. Unfortunately, the bureaucrats sought not the best value, but the cheapest. They themselves stayed in their ever more luxurious offices, and didn’t monitor the results. Instead they pocketed the change. Any criticism from ratepayers, or council tax payers as they were renamed in yet another attempt to address the same problems, was deflected on to central government.

    The same thing happened to a certain extent with privatisation. The boot-faced surliness of the nationalised industries was dipslaced by providers of utilities who are now disconnected from their customers and consumers, and often based abroad. The public feel ripped off and powerless. They can switch to another provider, but disillusion and then cynicism usually set in.

    The Blair/Brown way round the union problem was to bring in cheap labour from abroad. The consequences of their unfettered mass immigration present rather bigger problems to deal with than a bloated bureaucracy

    Now the idea is to displace the public sector fat cats by local democracy, regardless of the fact that we don’t all live in a monocultural Dorset village of permanent and settled residents.

    What monster will grow on the back of that? Mayors could be captured by one particular community in the provincial cities, and corruption come in on a scale not known here; or they could be captured by the concrete and carpark big development boys based in Chicago.

    The same could happen with the “local providers” who are to take over the running of our parks etc. in the government’s latest vision of devolving power to local people.

    How do we get back the Chamberlain style of local government? Good honest uncorrupt best-value balanced books administration, which left something behind of value for succeeding generations? It depended on local people doing well and staying local; putting something back into their own cities. That demanded low taxes and a settled static population.

    Those days are gone now we are globalised. Local connections and mutual loyalties are as dead as the “Can I do you now, Sir?” culture of the mid 20th century. Now cleaners don’t have that authority and confidence; they don’t have that intimacy with their employers. They sometimes don’t even speak their language. They come in anonymously at night, sometimes travelling long distances from substandard accommodation, and driving down each other’s wages. They compete successfully against British born people and their children who then become alienated and at the same time dependant. A dangerous combination.

    • rose
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:45 am | Permalink

      PS people are in the majority apolitical. They don’t want to spend time going to meetings every evening, or plotting. That is how the student unions were taken over by the Trots and Marxist Leninists in the 60s and 70s, then intermittently by the God Squad, and now by the Jihadists. Most students mind their own business, so a lot of damage can be done in their names.

      In grownup life it is much the same. Most people don’t want to leave their families to do politics. They just want other people to carry out good administration in their name. They will of course complain, and get alienated or apathetic, but they aren’t going to go into politics themselves, particularly not now that the intrusion into personal life is more oppressive than ever before and still getting worse. Who is going to want their marital, medical, and financial affairs scrutinised by the public and the press, and, worst of all, aired by the broadcasters?

      I expect the same corrosive process to take place in the new local democracy the government is espousing.

      • zorro
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Well said.


      • Bazman
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:35 pm | Permalink

        Its called being accountable and transparent. Some would cut parts of their body off for power and if they want power they should be clean and seen to be clean. I’m not doffing my cap to someone whilst they are secretly following their own agendas and/or embezzling. You are living in wonderland if you think MP’s and the like should live secret lives without scrutiny.

        • rose
          Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:28 pm | Permalink

          There is scrutiny and there is voyeurism. There is accountability and there is persecution. How far do you want it to go? And do you want any decent family people left in public life ?

  32. peter
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    One good thing from this is that Livingstone is now probably too old to stand again in any capacity in politics though Boris should have buried him before it went down to the wire – I agree that you can blame much of that on Cameron.

    I think the low turnout is also sympton of big government and too many elections – after all we have local, devolved (Wales, Soctland, NI, Mayoral), European and General elections – all a wee bit too much.

    I note the comments of the Blairite Whitehall big government organisation that probably have too many big state new labour politiczed civil servants calling too many of the shots making current politicians boxed in due to this and other treaty and law impediments. You could just see things like the pasty and caravan tax coming from these types of people in the Brown stealth tax style.

    Unfortunately it seems we now have a much worse political structure in the UK than we had before Blair came in and did his tinkering – they say you get the government you deserve, we got a bunch of clowns in 97 who with some clever marketing and a canny ability to copy Clinton’s campaign come in on a massive majority and able to create huge amounts of damage much of which we can’t see.

    The tories have to revert to being tories and stop all this politically correct namby pampy stuff to keep the libs happy – the libs have far too much say for their representation and some common sense needs to be restored to government. One thinks that a Thatcher type character needs to come in and take the place of Cameron and grab the monster by the throat.

    I’m sure if they had come in offering a referendum on the EU, the HRA and all these EU treaties and seen it through they could have come in on a big majority without the Libs

  33. Acorn
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:17 am | Permalink

    None of it gives a good impression to potential foreign investors. It shows a declining nation state that is slowly loosing the will to live. The following sort of copy does not help either:- http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2012/05/20125142044487975.html .

  34. Martin
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:22 am | Permalink

    In England Labour would have had to try hard not to do well as they were the only major opposition party! (Mr Livingstone somehow managed to under poll his party in London.)

  35. Sue
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Just one thing really… I’m sorry to say. Get rid of “the un-dynamic duo”. Cameron and Osborne are seen as shiny faced, spoilt brats. (word left out-ed)Rich youngsters with socialist ideals (nice if you can afford it) with absolutely no idea of what they are doing or what they are allowed to do by Brussels.

    Cameron especially, who seems to enjoy the world stage a little too much and his reputation as a generous donor with OUR MONEY to overseas aid when people I know are struggling from day to day just to keep a roof over their families’ heads. Quite honestly, they don’t give a fig what happens on the other side of the world when they can’t afford to keep their families warm in the winter!!!!!!

    Not a woman I know thinks he’s leader material. Mr Cameron does not appeal to the ladies, especially by ordinary mums and grannies (we’re not talking Netmum suburbia here but council estates). He’s patronising, (economical with the truth-ed) and comes over as completely incompetent with his constant u-turns and lack of knowledge of EU directives. He only has himself to blame, he needs to put some “normal” people in his inner circle to tell him about real life.

    Women like to see experience and maturity in charge (He is referred to as “the boy” in silver-surfer circles). Somebody who has worked for a living and raised a family. A family man with no sordid little love secrets or liaisons and somebody that supports traditional Christian marriage. We may not all be religious but we still live by the rules set out in Christianity.

    In short, elect somebody “REAL” to lead you.

    Reply: No-one has ever alleged that Mr Cameron has cheated his family.

    • Sean O'Hare
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

      Reply: No-one has ever alleged that Mr Cameron has cheated his family

      His one saving grace. He has certainly cheated on the rest of us.

      • Christopher Ekstrom
        Posted May 6, 2012 at 3:57 am | Permalink


    • Bazman
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Permalink

      They both got grabbed by the Nads when called two arrogant out of touch posh boys by a Scouse Tory (?) who called for compulsory sexual abstinence lessons for girls. Only girls mind, as teenage boys are little interest in sex and are in danger of being forced into things by their girlfriends, but where you get the idea that they are involved in sexual scandal and are not ‘real men’ is a mystery. Fantasy as usual. Maybe they are yours?

  36. Ieuan
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:40 am | Permalink

    The key to another Conservative victory is undoubtedly the economy. The Tories must cut taxes for all down into the 30’s, or even the 20’s, establishing a flat tax. Privatizing the NHS and education, so as to ensure that government spending is lowered sufficiently to make way for these tax cuts. The removal of business and inheritance taxes will also give the rich more incentive to stay and invest in Britain. It is interesting how the countries with low tax rates, such as Australia and Canada, have done well economically during the financial crisis. It is also true that Europeam Countries with high levels of tax have performed abysmally. However sadly, this economic dream of a low tax, low spending Britain will ont be achieved by this government, or any government.

    • uanime5
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      If the Conservatives try to implement any of this they will never be re-elected and will forever be known as a party that only acts in the interests of the wealthy. Most people don’t want to lose the NHS and free schooling so the wealthy can have lower taxes.

      You don’t need to keep the rich in the UK to convince them to invest in the UK. The wealthy are far more likely to invest in a country if they believe they can make a large profit, not because the Government is pandering to them.

      Finally despite having the lowest tax rate in the world Dubai has been doing very badly during the recession, while Germany with its high tax rate is doing very well. Low tax rates aren’t the only factor for success and often prove detrimental.

  37. Eddie Allen
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    If politicians can’t agree that the whole reason they are there is to represent the wishes of the electorate and give us a vote on Europe, then they don’t deserve our votes. If they ignore this question then it is they who should turn their backs on politics not those who didn’t vote.

    For me, they should either believe in democracy and use it or else should stand aside.

    I will never vote for any party which doesn’t have the interests of the unspoken people of this country who would otherwise give them a mandate as they are all the same. And it isn’t about economic fortune when democracy is shut out on the main question of why our parliament is non-representative of the wishes of the British people. It’s the EU that prevents our parliament from acting in our interests. It’s the EU that makes it impossible to get to grips with criminals. It’s the EU which drains our coffers. It’s the EU which adds to our population which adds to the burden socially and to welfare, roads, airports, NHS, and to unemployment and crime.

    When a party is planning to deliver itself to the people on these problems and give a vote on the EU whilst campaigning itself for our removal then I will vote for it and not until.

    Meanwhile, the coalition should stop using the whip on any Bill put before it because the coalition does not have a mandate from the British people. It is there because none of them gained enough support!

    • Brian Tomkinson
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

      MPs could defy the party whip if they weren’t so gutless and self-interested.

  38. Gewyne
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 12:50 pm | Permalink

    Nothing really changes does it ?

    Once in power manifestos go out the window, things opposition said no to suddenly become policy in government. Promises of referendum vanish, the talk and spin disperses on the wind and we are left another 5 years of the same.

    Maybe if each party had to make a 3-4 cast iron Manifesto headlines that were legally binding, and became automatic policy becoming law/legislation day one of the party taking office (as it was thew will of the people) maybe people will start to vote again. At the moment though there is little point ? The only thing politicians bring us is more taxes (either direct or indirect) and more rules and restrictions on our lives year after year. At some point we will presumably have to pay for the privilidge of a job and be confined to a 6×3 cell the rest of the time to prevent us from harming ourselves from foolish decisions.

  39. Caterpillar
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Permalink

    I agree that there is no quick answer, so here are some quick questions instead?

    (1) What is the current literature on why (people say they) don’t vote?
    (2) What is the economic performance (e.g. GDP growth per capita) of countries that have high / low percentages of election turn out (i.e. does election turn out matter – if there is a realtionship is it causal)?
    (3) Given the range of elected bodies and the range of voting systems what percentage of the electorate understand these (the bodies and systems not even the policies)?
    (4) Does localism really require (unpaid) elected councillors / mayors at all? {More specifically what layers of politicians are needed for information flow and service coordination?}
    (5) At General Elections what would be wrong with separating out constituency candidate and party votes (- my MMP bias)? What would be wrong with a legal obligation to vote and a fine for not (abstention being the first option on the ballot paper)?
    (6) What percentage of the electorate can demonstrate a basic understanding of policy issues? [I suspect a lack of interest may follow from a lack of understanding].
    (7) How, over the next two or three years, could ‘we’ get all the current major parties and media outlets to, together, explain the main issues in a non-partisan way? Is it possible for us the electorate to be aided in becoming more informed? {E.g. what percentage of the electorate could give a reason why the debt is (or isn’t) an issue? What percentage can explain different forms of taxation, compare the effects of taxation and regulation? What percentage can delineate policy areas etc?}
    (8) What are the barriers to standing as an indept / new-party councillor (e.g. no party brand, no salary if elected)? What are the barriers to standing in a General Election (cost, cost of campaigning, cost of campaignign against branded candidates, privacy & safety fears …)? How can these barriers be removed?
    (9) Is Cabinet/Govt/Parliament communication to the electorate (as stakeholders) failing to brief properly? Is there a principal-agent failure between electorate and executive?

  40. Tad Davison
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:19 pm | Permalink

    So, how far does the turnout have to drop, before we can say the results are illegitimate, and the people can finally get rid of the failed political classes with a bulldozer?

    Tad Davison


    • Sean O'Hare
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:50 pm | Permalink

      It is far more likely that the EU Komisariat will do away with elections entirely.

  41. David Langley
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    John, there must be millions of voters who are on line, but do not want the fag of wandering to a polling station.
    If a bank account can be made safe by pins and other electronic safeguards why can’t I have a voting account with the government?
    A site like that could have all the candidates putting up for election, their CV,s etc.
    In the future big issues could be aired and public reaction sought. Only bona fide electors would be live and bogus/fraudulent applications rejected or investigated. Have your polling stations equipped with input devices so multiple input would be impossible. That would take care of those without online capability.
    The young of today would think nothing of voting online and would do it in a flash.

    • Denis Cooper
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:27 pm | Permalink

      Because it would open the door for electoral fraud even wider than on-demand postal voting has already done, that’s why.

      • alan jutson
        Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:01 pm | Permalink



        Postal votes are bad enough.

  42. Steven Whitfield
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    It local government elections tell us that the Coalition ministers are so unprincipled they are prepared to tell pork pies on national television in order to decieve the public about the imaginary nature of the so called ‘cuts’.

    ‘We will not be blown off course, we are taking the tough decisions needed ….’ – Chris Grayling said with a look of total embarassment that he had just said such a stupid thing.

    Mr Redwood, do you really want to be associated with this shower ?.

    This must be as good time for all principled Conservatives to bail out and steer their own boat as far away as possible from this sinking ship.

  43. zorro
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 1:57 pm | Permalink

    “If people still did not think there was sufficient choice they could have stood themselves.”……OK, John, if you stand as an independent MP/councillor, then so will I…..You know that it is very difficult and expensive to do that. It is not really a constructive point of view to criticise people for not standing…..Opinions are made through participation at the ballot box/lack of participation at the ballot box.


    • sjb
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 5:29 pm | Permalink

      It costs nothing to stand as a candidate in a local government election, zorro. But you would need to find ten electors willing to sign your nomination papers.

  44. English Pensioner
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:12 pm | Permalink

    I believe that people don’t vote because as far as they can see, whoever is in power, nothing changes. I find it difficult to find any real difference between the Blair government and the Cameron government. Certainly I believe that if Blair was in power now (without Brown), we would be in exactly the same position.
    When it comes to local government, things are even worse, they can’t change much even if they wanted to as they are so hemmed in by the EU and Central Government. I was recently been talking to an ex-councillor, an independent who didn’t stand again because he was fed up with “banging his head against a brick wall”.
    He claims that when wanting to make changes to various things he has been given the following reasons for not doing so by council officials.
    “It is not within the Council’s powers”
    “If we did that we would probably face a legal challenge”
    “We do that for Data Protection / Heath and Safety / Child protection reasons ”
    “That course of action might be considered to be racist”
    “If you ignore the advice of your officials you could be held liable”
    “We have a statutory duty to do that”
    These are just a few of the reasons that I can remember, and they have broadly been confirmed by sitting councillor. It’s the officials who rule the roost, the councillors are just there to rubber stamp the officials’ decisions.
    Most people realise this, and see no point in voting.

  45. Leslie Singleton
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Did you mean “UK-wide” parties or what you have written viz “wide parties” as in “wide boys” or at best parties that wish (gay marriages etc) to be everything to everybody? I (Truebluechap elsewhere) can strongly relate to your contributor who said that despite once being a staunch Conservative yesterday he found himself rooting against Cameron. This is the level of contempt Cameron has inspired. Hard to believe he can have done some of the things he has done or even that he is in the Conservative Party let alone its leader. What we want as you know is for the UK to tell the EU to go take a hike instead of our merely pussyfooting around as now. In the light of the Referendum we haven’t been given who gives a rodent’s rear end about mere elections.

  46. Lindsay McDougall
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    Congratulations to Michael Morris, who won Hook ward for the Conservatives with 71.26%. All it took was 5 weeks of canvassing so hard that he got sore knees and lost a stone and a half in weight. Genius can be the taking of infinite pains.

    The Conservatives lost overall control of Hart DC. Rumour has it that our canvassing was less than diligent in 3 of the wards.

    Appearances can be deceptive. UKIP’s share of the popular vote rose from 9% to 14%.

  47. BobE
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    John, By now it should be possible to vote “On line”. I can manage my bank account that way and I am certain that a secure way could be found. Put a number on the voting card that lets that person log on and vote once. If that workes then let Yads do it by text message. That would improve the turnout.
    I am now even more certain that the Lib Dems will virtually dissapear, their core vote seems to have switched to Lab or Greens. I would stay well away from them if you can.
    Part of the reason for the poor Mayor turn out was GroundHog day. Boris only won because Ken looked like an old worn out boxer trying for a final gig. A better Lab cabdidate would have won.
    3 years to go.

  48. BobE
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Permalink

    Ukip is now at 14%, and rising.

  49. Barbara Stevens
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:00 pm | Permalink

    John, I do hope the Conservatives can get over this terrible results they have had. If they listened more and gave the people what ‘they’ want instead of party manifesto they might gain more votes. I feel very let down and didn’t vote for your party, mainly because of the let down over the EU. Cameron appears to do nothing. He should know full well when he used his veto how his ratings went up surely that’s enough an indicator for anyone? He’s not giving Tory policies at all, the old regime altered things, but fairly, looking after the old and sick properly, not targeting them with higher taxes and cuts. Many manage with what they are given and rightly so, and do it well.
    the truth is the majority don’t want this EU set up, and now they are behind our backs beginning to organise a ‘President’ for Europe, and we all know what this means. I’m glad to see Boris saved the day, again, and what he’s coming out with is how people are feeling, he is in touch with the common man, Cameron is not. Lower taxes, laws repealed for better business.
    What we now need is Conservative policies, that really tackle immigration, yes, that question is still here; stop the EU from encrouching on our liberty anymore, in fact we should have a referendum. If Cameron gave us that his esteem would rise considarably. Miliband as suggested a referendum ‘may’ be posssible, don’t let them deceive us anymore, or jump the gun on an idea that will gain votes.`The elections are over, its repair time, and that means giving the voters what they want, doing what they want. A stop to foreign aid, a stop to health tourists, a vote on the EU, and real fairness for all, like the old Tories used to. If not, then you’re doomed.

  50. uanime5
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

    I feel that the low turnout is due to the following:

    1) Most people don’t know what their local council is for, so they have little incentive to vote for anyone.

    2) The current voting system (first past the post) means that most votes are wasted so most people see no reason to vote. Perhaps it should be replaced with the Additional Member system, which was used in the London mayor election, to ensure that the winner has at least 50% of the votes. Hopefully this will encourage 50% of the population to vote, rather than 32%.

  51. Derek Emery
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:39 pm | Permalink

    Isn’t the whole EU moving towards the post-democratic state where as many decisions as possible are taken as remotely and disinterestedly as as far as the public are concerned as humanly possible. Elections are OK as long as they can’t change anything important. Elected politicians are being replaced by EU bureaucrats as the solution to EU problems.
    The unelected elite are convinced that what stops the EU having high performance is democracy because democracy means giving different people different solutions. From their god-like position they know that what is needed is never what the people want but what they want.
    It’s obvious to all that the political elite in the UK have their own interests but these have nothing to do with the people. Changes to the Lords that they want will do absolutely nothing for the public. If the lot of the public is improved by more than 0.001% by these changes it will be truly astounding.
    The public do not trust politicians as a class because they do not deliver. Most would say they are incapable of delivering any real improvement to our lives because they lack real skills and because we are an alien species as far as they are concerned. Many politicians (especially Blair) love war but what is in it for the public – absolutely nothing.

  52. Bazman
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 5:56 pm | Permalink

    Any ideas on the type of person who does vote and why they do? Busybodies or concerned citizens?

    • rose
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:34 pm | Permalink

      A lot of us have just been brought up to do it as a duty and a privilege denied to many in the world.

    • forthurst
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:10 pm | Permalink


  53. Max Dunbar
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:02 pm | Permalink

    The only relief in Glasgow was that the SNP did not gain control of the council and Sheridan’s mob did not win a seat despite media hype. That means that the planned destruction of the UK has been dealt a possible set back.

    Here, the choice is left, very left, far left and extreme far left. Take your pick. It is an extremely depressing state of affairs. When Labour are in danger of losing they can do a fairly effective job of masquerading as human beings however.

  54. merlin
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    To put it simply, the only party that can change our relationship with europe is the Conservative Party.

    Labour are servile euroslaves as are the lib dems

    The conservative party will win the next election and will have a new intake of MP’s.

    Then we can change our relationship with europe, the point being two things are required

    1 a single party government i.e conservative

    2 a large number of MP’s who are anti europe

    This is the only way that the UK could leave europe

  55. davidb
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 7:59 pm | Permalink

    Eh, that fourth placed SNP came first in Scotland with 424 councillors elected. By that kind of manipulation of stats would I be right in saying Boris came last, as he only won one seat?

    Voting should be compulsory, a box for none of the above should be on the ballot, and if that is what most folks want then the elections should be run with different candidates until someone is elected.

    I always vote. Its a duty and a right which is denied to so many people around the world. I hear repeatedly from contemporaries that there is no point, all the politicians are the same. I dont know what the answer to that is. I have wondered if limiting to two terms would keep the dead wood trimmed. Perhaps in the absence of compulsion to vote it would be an idea to have all the different ballots on the same day.

  56. Alexis
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:13 pm | Permalink

    We cannot really know what the results tell us, without also asking those who voted, or chose not to, why they decided as they did.

    As far as I can tell, it is only politicians such as our host, who are even bothering to try.

    The media and other political commentators apparently prefer assumption, projection and guesswork to actually asking Joe/Josephine Public the awful truth!

  57. John Ward
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 9:32 pm | Permalink

    There is a growing feeling among even the least radical Baby-Boomer middle class bourgeois that they are being not so much squeezed as swindled.
    They ask – quite understandably: what good have Zirp and QE done for the economy versus the bad they have done to my investments? Why are stock markets still so high when (if they were truly free markets) they should’ve dived months ago? How come paper Gold prices are depressed when real bullion prices are through the roof?
    They wonder why the euro remains high versus the Pound when the eurozone is imploding. They ask what is the point of Osborne shaving £12bn off the deficit when over the same period Mervyn King has spend £95bn on ineffective QE.
    It all feels ineluctably manipulated, with fabulous wealth for the few and misery for the many.
    Politicians think the answer to every problem is more politicians. Their view is not shared by the voters – they think politicians need to get a grip on those greedy people in society who are taking the mickey…and the money.
    And that, above anything else, is why 2 in 3 voters didn’t turn up: they don’t see the point any more.

  58. Electro-Kevin
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:20 pm | Permalink

    There could be various conclusions about the disengagement of 70% of the voting population from politics.

    There can be only one conclusion about the disengagement of the Tory party with its core voters.

    • Electro-Kevin
      Posted May 5, 2012 at 11:43 pm | Permalink

      Your post does not answer why those core Tory voters – who care very much about politics and who are responsible people – stayed at home.

  59. Christopher Ekstrom
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 3:49 am | Permalink

    Once a promise is made, dubbed cast-iron, & promptly flung from the window upon assuming office even the very stupid realize they have been had. How Mr. Redwood keeps his jolly good humor as England tumbles is a mystery. The bitter end is near for DC. You cannot have 68% (!) abstain & not see the writing on the wall: UKIP will poll 30% by 2013. But in 2014 the Tory party may cease to matter!

  60. Steve Cox
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    A bit late to post, perhaps, but I rather suspect that Peter Hitchens’ article in the Mail this morning will strike a chord with many disillusioned Conservative voters:


    • rose
      Posted May 6, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

      The conundrum they are in is that their current candidate David Davis turns most people off. David Cameron has annoyed his own party who are in a minority, but he doesn’t turn most people off. Of course the media with their own complex agenda are giving the Balls/Watson line that he does, that women don’t like him, that he is incompetent and out of touch; and of course the let down conservatives seize on that, build on it with additional charges of laziness and arrogance, and use it to get their preferred candidate in. Nadine Dorries may even be using it to get the audience for her beliefs that the left wing media denied her when she was loyal. As Miss Widdecombe found, if an unpopular and unfashionable Christian Conservative woman attacks a very senior memeber of her own party, she becomes the media’s darling. A contemporary version of the Dorothy Sayers approach perhaps?

      Just stand back from these two sources of coinciding propaganda and examine the situation calmly as Mr R does.

      Who won the election? Who votes Labour, no matter what they say about immigration and the EU? Which boundaries are still to be redrawn? Who can foul that up? Who still wants PR and will sell their souls to get it? How many people in the country will vote Conservative in a recession when they have got used to Labour handouts in a boom?

      Now there ia a wishful thought abroad that Boris could change everything. Get real. He is no different from the PM in essentials. Except in just one: he doesn’t let the propaganda get to him.

  61. Mike Fowle
    Posted May 6, 2012 at 4:16 pm | Permalink

    What do the election results tell us? IMHO that too many people read the Mail and the Telegraph and believe in their relentless campaigns against the coalition. (Give us another juicy quote, Nadine). The government has a tremendously difficult job to do to salvage the country from the mess it was left in without alienating the people or actually causing riots. I wish some of these posters would not assume there is a simple Thatcherite answer to all our poblems. There isn’t. If it hadn’t been for the Falklands, Thatcher would have been dropped over the side much earlier.

    • rose
      Posted May 7, 2012 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

      I fully agree with the main thrust here, but not that Mrs T would have been ditched but for the Falklands. The economy was already on the up and the opinion polls reflecting that before the Argentine invasion. It was lazy journalism which made out it was the Falklands Factor in 1983. The Labour Party and its supporters didn’t in their own analyses.

      The other thing we might remember from those days is that the then PM was also governing within a coalition – of the Thatcherites and the Conservatives – and just as shackled as the present PM in many ways. Not unlike Lloyd George’s coalition with them, which also ended in betrayal. All the serious opposition to her was within her own senior ranks, and the broadcasters and much of the press were equally hostile. Also, what she was trying to do had not been done before and very few thought it could be.

      However, she didn’t have to rely on an actual opposition party to get boundary reforms through which were deemed to redress the balance in her own party’s favour. The other difference was that she knew better than to read the newspapers.

      I fully understand why the present PM is more sensitive on this last point, having seen what happened to her in the end, and then to her four successors. But this modern attention to style and image always takes the edge off a leader. It has most recently been done to Sarkozy by his PR people, and not worked; and it was done to a certain extent to Mrs T, not to good effect. But it has never been done to Boris, and he is living proof that the public seem to prefer it when it isn’t. “What you see is what you get and it talks right back at you …” was what an American politician said in wonder of Mrs T in her unreconstructed days, and it is a very good formula for carrying people with you. Of course the opposition and media will always pounce on someone’s virtues and then respin them as defects, but if the person concerned doesn’t fall for that ploy, other people won’t.

      Not for the first time, I am in agreement with Mrs Bone: give the PM a break. He has an impossible job to do. I am astonished that he took it on when there are more rewarding things he could be doing, but grateful that he did. May he succeed. If he fails, I really can’t think who could succeed in his place. Certainly not DD, and probably not Boris who is anyway badly needed where he is.

      • rose
        Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

        The other advantage Mrs T had over David Cameron was that not nearly so many people as now had been put onthe government pay and benefit roll, and mass immigration was not a factor, as primary immigration had all but been stopped at that time, not getting going again till after 1997.

  62. John Johnson
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    Labour didn’t win, the conservatives lost. But arroggent people don’t understand that point. Your not listening to people your telling them what they want.

    Get a grip on immigration and a referendum on the EU, we’ll see then wont we. But you wont be allowed to do it????.


    Reply: The figures show Labour did win, with a decent swing to them in the votes cast.

  63. lojolondon
    Posted May 7, 2012 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    John, us ex-Tories love UKIP because they stand for everything that a proper Conservative party would stand for, no more and no less. And I will continue to give them my vote until we are given a referendum. Because nothing else will make David Cameron listen to us. Every time we vote against him he says ‘what I think people want is …. ‘ and it is totally LibDem speak that comes out. Not a word against the EU, not a word against immigration, abuse of British resources, foreign ruling of our lands. He has seriously misunderstood his voters, which is why he will lose the next election.
    In 2015, again the Conservatives will fail to win an outright majority so there will be a hung parliament, and the Lib Dems will be delighted this time to throw their support behind Ed Miliband. The Tories will pay the ultimate price for failing to muzzle the propaganda wing of the Labour Party aka the BBC, and for deserting all conservative principles.

    Reply: Were your forecast to come true it sounds as if we all suffer.

  • About John Redwood

    John Redwood won a free place at Kent College, Canterbury, and graduated from Magdalen College Oxford. He is a Distinguished fellow of All Souls, Oxford. A businessman by background, he has set up an investment management business, was both executive and non executive chairman of a quoted industrial PLC, and chaired a manufacturing company with factories in Birmingham, Chicago, India and China. He is the MP for Wokingham, first elected in 1987.

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