I was out campaigning on the streets of Oxford this morning with Tim Starkey, Cllr John Tanner and Pete Willsman. As we handed out leaflets we received the usual range of responses from people perceiving us as invisible to the naked eye to others who proudly announced they had already voted Labour in their postal ballot. I think we handed out about 400 - 500 leaflets to passers by in the 3 hours or so we were there.
However one woman surprised me: she poured on us equal & large quantities of vitriol and scorn from her very lofty position in the Green Party. She maintained this was a terrible model of governance which was politicising something that should not be politicised and by taking part, we were colluding in this horrific enterprise.
Up to a point, of course, I agree with her wholeheartedly. This blog post would become tedious were I to list all the failings of this new governance model and the way in which the Home Office has managed the electoral process. (The fact that several people snatched the leaflet from our hands with words something like "at last some information!" was testament to this.)
But of course where I disagree with her is judgement that to be engaged with this electoral process is something akin to fascism. I know there are many people who are opting out, along with Lord Blair, for linked and other reasons.
But is opting out.... opting out?
Here are some facts and predictions:
- These elections will go ahead and some people will vote.
- This time next week (barring some electoral quirk), the country will have 41 PCCs
- These PCCs will be setting the plans and council tax precept in the weeks that follow
- Moreover, where there are vacancies, some of these PCCs will be appointing new Chief Constables shortly as well
- Turnout will be extraordinarily low which means that there might be surprise results
- However even if the turnout is as low as 10% or less, the elections will be still be legal
- Low turnout will be blamed on the November schedule and I fully expect the Lib Dems to be blamed for that.
- Higher than usual proportions of spoilt ballot papers will be blamed on the voting system