Blame yourself – not the voters

Thursday 16th May 2013 10:00 pm

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RICHARD HOWEL, Higher Norris Farm, North Huish, South Brent, writes:

In your report on the recent county council elections in last week's issue you quote councillor Roger Croad as saying that the turnout of 27.1 per cent in Ivybridge had 'insulted the memory' of those who had fought for their right to vote.

'It is less than 100 years ago that people were dying for the right to participate in elections,' he declaimed, 'and now we have come down to this insult to their memory.'

Yet it is only a mere eight years since Cllr Croad succeeded in winning 2,115 of the 5,865 votes cast in Ivybridge in 2005, with turnout at a healthy 65.9 per cent. Four years later in 2009, the number turning out had fallen to 3,462 or 37.2 per cent of the electorate and, of those, 1,772 voted for Cllr Croad.

This year, Cllr Croad merely managed to attract 1,028 votes, far less than half the total he obtained only eight years previously, while the 27.1 per cent turnout in Ivybridge was noticeable lower than the average of 35.1 per cent across the South Hams.

Consequently, instead of choosing to chastise the electorate, Cllr Croad could question what it is he has done, or failed to do in the last eight years, that caused more than 1,000 people to stop voting for him.

Regardless of what might be going on at a national level, these were local elections that, had politicians managed to make their case, should have been decided on local issues.

However in the division in which I live, of the five candidates, none came to canvass me, and only one actually sent me an election address. I went to vote but, with no idea of why or for what almost any of them were standing, I spoilt my paper. If politicians can't make the effort to explain why they deserve our vote they can hardly expect voters to be any the less apathetic.

Rather than accuse the citizens of Ivybridge of insulting the memory of the dead, Cllr Croad might like to ponder the suggestion so aptly made in Rear View Mirror in the same issue: 'Conservative, Labour and Liberals all need to take a hard look at themselves if they want to survive to fight another day.'

l We should point that in 2005, local elections were held on the same day as the general election. This may account for the discrepency in the turnout figures.


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