Alex Jones on apathy, four parties and local challenges

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Great to get some insight from another of our excellent count commentators, Alexandra Jones, CEX of Centre for Cities.

She writes:

“The morning after the day before and, besides all the news about individual wins and losses, ¬†what have we learned?

First, four party politics has now arrived in England, some years after it became a reality in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. While UKIP have not won control of a council or gained a seat as an MP, the gains they have made and are likely to make on Monday will not only force national parties to reassess their electoral strategies, they will also have an impact in local areas, especially where UKIP has won a number of local seats.

Second, all the excitement amongst commentators hasn’t really translated into increased turnout – some reports suggest just a 1% increase. That means three in five people didn’t get interested enough to go and vote.

Third, national coverage of local elections always focuses on the national implications of local elections. That’s understandable – it’s hard for the BBC to talk about what each individual council has been doing over the past few years, and what that might have meant for the results. But no one is really talking about the fact that, when all the excitement is done, councils will be back to making increasingly difficult decisions about how to cut spending – all the easy cuts (where there were any) are done. Whoever has been voted into local government is going to have a challenging few years ahead – and what they decide matters to daily lives, from affecting care for elderly parents or vulnerable children, through to being able to get a bus to work or have clean streets. Whatever the national legacy and the impact of these elections next May, there’s a big impact they’ll have over the next 12 months and beyond on places and people around the UK.”

    1. David Farnsworth says:

      Excellent points about fourth party politics and the importance of Local Government, but your comment that low turn out is because “people didn’t get interested enough” puts the onus, wrongly I think, on the electorate. Incidentally so does the headline “apathy”

      Low turnouts should not be dismissed as voter apathy or failure to be interested. Most citizens are very interested; they are simply being excluded from the political process by ineffective and sometimes rigged consultation processes and party and professional ideology instead of informed choice.

      We have a crisis in our political system that needs urgent solutions.

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