Political earthquake, tremor, or just hype?
You cannot open a newspaper, turn on the tv, or listen to the radio not to be bombarded by stories of the recent local government and European elections. Words of earthquake, and other hysterical type of words are being bandied around. A few days after the polls have closed, we now have the calls for Leader X and Y to stand down; or pacts and deals to be made. It seems you cannot have an election without a bit of backstabbing, blame game and leadership assassinations.
Maybe if more effort was made getting people to vote, rather than dissect the results to a microscopic level, we would get a greater turn out of people voting. Is it really good enough that 65% of the electorate did not vote at these elections? My answer is no it is not. In fact, it is embarrassing and a sad reflection of voting in this country.
For instance I went out last night to celebrate a friends 25th wedding anniversary, and in the general chit-chat many of the responses on the recent elections were: ‘what’s the point’, ‘they never listen‘ or ‘my vote would not change anything.’ I got to the point of stopping explaining why it is important to vote. Is this apathy, or just disengagement with the political establishment? The answer probably includes both. However, it was interesting to hear people saying we voted for you because we know you. Maybe thats one of the answers, people to know the real person behind the political spin.
Anyway the point of this blog is to also look at the political make up of Local Government in England post this election. And which party has the bragging rights to the most Councillors. The following figures comprises of Councillors from primary authorities – County, Unitary, London Boroughs, Metropolitan Boroughs and District Council’s. These figures do not include town and parish councils.
For at bit of trivia*, there are roughly 21,000 democratically elected Councillors (England and Wales). With 11,000 town, parish and community councils plus the 468 local authorities in the UK.
The total number of Councillors in England**by political party is as follows:
- CON – 8,076
- LAB – 6,152
- LD – 2,117
- UKIP – 368
- Green – 156
- Other – 1,179
This is broken-down further by those different primary authorities in England
- County Council – Con 934; Lab 382; LD 253; UKIP 135; Green 19; Other 88
- Unitary – Con 1190; Lab 1178; LD 390; UKIP 58; Green 37; Other 265
- London Borough – Con 608; Lab 1033; LD 115; UKIP 12; Green 3; Other 32
- Metropolitan – Con 368; Lab 1746; LD 191, UKIP 37; Green 30; Other 73
- District Council – Con 4976; Lab 1813; LD 1168; UKIP 126; Green 67; Other 721
It is clear to see who the two largest parties are. It is also clear to see there is no sudden political break through of UKIP. But it should be acknowledged like in Cornwall Council’s case, and who in 2009 (Cornwall became a single tier Unitary in this year) had no UKIP Councillors to having six Councillors at Cornwall Council after the 2013 local election, that UKIP are gaining seats. It is going to be very interesting to see the European election results to see if UKIP win the day, or like in the local elections, make a small gain in the number of seats they currently hold.
The real mission should now be to convince as many of the 65% of voters who are not voting, to vote. Maybe politics should be less about the hype and soundbites, and talk about the subjects that matter to the people. And by people I mean not only those who make the loudest noise, but those who go about their daily business, but still have opinion and want politicians to listen to them. Which possibly why UKIP are now seen as the protest vote.
Burke’s quote rings true today as it did in the 18th Century:
“Because half a dozen grasshoppers under a fern make the field ring with their importunate chink, whilst thousands of great cattle. . . chew the cud and are silent, pray do not imagine that those who make the noise are the only inhabitants of the field; that, of course, they are many in number; or that, after all, they are other than the little,shriveled, meagre, hopping, though loud and troublesome _insects_ of the hour.”
Could this be the reason why people are voting the way they are? It is certainly no earthquake, but it is a small tremor and which politicians should pay heed to.