The below letter appeared in the Sittingbourne News Extra - 14 March 2012
On 8 March, the people of Kemsley had their opportunity to express a view on their local politics and the actions of their Council. The local branches of all four parties worked very hard over several weeks, bringing their respective and distinctive messages to the voters as they had to decide who should represent their interests in the council chamber.
And what was the result? A 23% turnout! Despite various arrangements which make voting easier than ever, despite plenty of literature coming through the letter box, despite many of us knocking on doors to ask opinions, more than three out of four people could not even be bothered to vote – and they now have a Councillor chosen by less than 9%. These statistics shame Kemsley.
I can hear two main responses. Firstly, ‘you are all the same, so why bother?’ – well, anyone who has read the leaflets can see clear differences that the parties have put forward – and of course we want to hear from people too. How can we listen if you don’t speak? Secondly, Kemsley has been ‘ignored for many years’ – yes, this is true as local parties don’t have the resources to campaign everywhere – but now the people of Kemsley had our undivided attention – and decided they didn’t want it!
While many people around the world are risking their lives and liberties in campaigning for basic freedoms, and British armed forces have fought and are continuing to fight in order to protect our right to vote, it seems more and more people in this country would rather not bother. Kemsley is not alone in this apathy, and this strengthens the case for the introduction of compulsory voting. After all, it comes to something when you have to force democracy to people!
But I must finish by thanking the 23% of people in Kemsley who voted. Whoever you voted for, it is appreciated.