In our canvassing we have noticed a disturbing new trend. There are more and more people who have made a positive decision not to vote in the general election.
Cynicism and apathy are understandable given the whole series of MP scandals recently. And being insulted and pre-judged by people you have never met comes with the territory when you are running for elected office. But if I was a wealthy crook or a corrupt charlatan, as I have been called, I wouldn’t be spending hours of my own time out in cold evenings, knocking on doors or delivering leaflets.
The implication seems to be that by the very fact that you are running for parliament or for council, therefore you must be corrupt. End of.
I would ask these people two questions. Firstly, if people don’t vote, how will things change? You could elect people who have promised to open up politics and then ensure you hold them to account afterwards.
Or question two. If you don’t like a system where we elect our MPs and councillors, what alternative would you like? A dictatorship? Military government? One-party rule?
If turnout is below 50% for this election, maybe we should have some sort of national consultation on how to choose our politicians – or even a referendum on whether we should elect them (and what would the turnout be for that?)
But, seriously, we should certainly address this issue and ask how can we get a higher turnout in elections.