Monday, 3 November 2008

VOTER APATHY

The question for debate is, why have the people of Stoke on Trent stopped voting?

We start with the recent referendum. The turnout was 19%, that is 35,902 out of a possible 186,698. I find this statistic very alarming. Surely, it cannot be that people simply do not care, there has to be other reasons? This was a major decision, on how our City was to be governed. Did we want to continue with the Mayoral System, or did we want a change, and opt for the Leader and Cabinet System. I cannot believe that so few people bothered to vote. Bearing in mind the actual cost of this Referendum, was it really worth this amount of money being spent?


Lets go back to the elections on 1 May 2008, and break down the turnout for each ward:-


Abbey Green 26.4%

Bentilee and Townsend 27.1%

Berryhill and Hanley East 27.1%

Blurton 27.7%

Burslem North 26.2%

Burslem South 27.9%

Chell and Packmoor 27.9%

East Valley 26.3%

Fenton 31.7%

Hanley West and Shelton 23.9%

Hartshill and Penkhull 30.6%

Longton North 30.9%

Longton South 37.9%

Meir Park and Sandon 32.4%

Northwood and Birches Head 29.8%

Norton and Bradeley 31.3%

Stoke and Trent Vale 26.8%

Trentham and Hanford 38.1%

Tunstall 31.4%

Weston and Meir North 35.2%



As you can see some areas are slightly better than others, but this turnout should be much better.


Under the Mayoral System, he has tried to get all the parties working together, mainly by forming the EMB. Though this is a good idea, as it is always better to work as one big team, but I do wonder if this has taken away the individual voices of political parties. The voters, may get the impression that because the parties appear to speak as one voice, how they vote won't really make a difference.


It is not the fact, that Councillors are not making an effort at election time, they work really hard, to get their policies across and get the election leaflets delivered. So, what goes wrong, once that leaflet comes through the door? Do people bother to read them, or do they go straight in the bin?

I think it would be interesting to find out, why these people choose not to vote. Are they simply not interested in local politics, or do they feel that they are no longer listened to, and no matter what they vote it won't make a difference? What worries me more, is that people are happy not to vote, therefore, leaving it upto others to make the decision for them.


If we look back over the years, Labour was always a strong hold across the City. So, what has gone wrong? At the moment, the Labour Party seems to be split across the City. There seems to be, from comments made on this site, some following West Midland Labour policies, and some not. The Mayor himself, I believe, follows West Midland Labour policies. Some Councillors are for the closure of schools, and the opening of Acadamies and some are totally against it. The same can be said for the closure of the care homes, and the privitisation of health care for the elderly. This does not show, a united front, and just confuses us the voters. We have Councillors and MP's giving support, but then they have to go and do the opposite. This is one reason why the voters are disgruntled. Yes, I know sometimes, they have to follow party policies, and their hands are tied, but why not be truthful in the first place, and tell us, there is not actually a lot they can do to change decisions.

The BNP stand as a united group, and all follow the same policies. Is this why they have become more and more popular? You ask a BNP voter, why they choose this party, and the answer is "well, they are the only ones actually listening to what we want, and taking action".

The Independents, are becoming more and more popular across the City, but I for one, am not really sure, what they stand for, and what policies they have. Are they really as independent as they say?

The Lib Dems and the Conservatives, were the parties, that used to be the next two most popular parties across the city, but for some reason, this is not the case now. The disgruntled Labour voters, used to opt for these parties, but I feel, that people are now choosing the BNP as the alternative.

We at PitsnPots want to know your opinions on why you think the people are no longer voting. We need to get to the bottom of this, and start changing people's attitude. I believe that your vote counts, and you should always use it. What worries me is, that if the parents of the City are not voting, this may rub off on our younger voters, and they may adopt the attitude of, well, it doesn't really matter, so I won't bother either.

It would be interesting to hear from a Councillor's point of view, why they think people are chosing not to vote?

Over to You.

13 comments:

Bob Bagley said...

I've noticed that the higher turnouts are generally in areas where there is a specific issue (eg. the school issue in Trentham & Hanford) or there is some motivation for people to turn out to vote (eg. Longton South voters ensuring that the BNP are not elected) and also where there is a very competitive election (eg. Weston & Meir North where 3 candidates had a chance of winning).

If the city is to get back to a normal situation with main party politics rather than cranks and crackpots being elected the Tories and Lib Dems need to try harder, but I'm not holding my breath as it's over 10 years since the Conservatives even bothered to deliver a leaflet in my area!

Tony said...

Nita, I believe that it should be compulsory to vote in this country.
I can not believe the amount of people who do not vote but are the quickest to moan and complain!

TAG Fan said...

Bob you are right in what you say about the Tories and Lib Dems. If they can't even push a leaflet about their candidate through your door how can they expect to get your vote? People complain about not having a proper choice at the elections. Well, this kind of *iss poor performance doesn't help and has no doubt benefitied the BNP/Independent parties.

terry turbo said...

Tony, fully agree with your comment.
The apathy shown by the electorate is dissgusting, but they are quick to moan about who gets in, when they couldn't even be bothered to get off their backsides to vote.
It should be mandatory to vote or face a fine.
There is no excuse for not voting.
People have given their lives to allow them to vote.
The excuse " it makes no differance" doesn't wash.
Bob your BNP Independant bashing is rediculious.
"If the City is to get back to a normal situation with main party politics"
In case you missed it the Conservatives don't give a damm, Lib Dems are hopless, and Labour as spent 60 years in power to put us in the "situation" we are in now.
You cannot blame the BNP, and the Independants for the way Stoke (or the country)is, this is all Labours making.

brooneyes said...

Bob Bagley.
I see you're back on your soapbox, but this time what you say is right, it's just your conclusions that are way off.
Longton, Tunstall, Burslem, all got top end turnouts, and this is the strength of the ethnic
communities, they will get and vote, where the indigenous people
just sit on their arses and bellyache!
Without doubt, the electorate should be made to vote. Sitting at home watching the telly simply isn't good enough when the wellbeing of our city is at stake.
Inbetween time, we should publish ward lists of those that didn't bother, so we can tell them to shut up when they start complaining.

Nigel said...

Craig, to a degree I agree with you (Bagh Ali got a massive 1600 votes in Longton South) but the Hanley West & Shelton ward has the largest ethnic community yet had the lowest turnout!

Bob Bagley said...

Likewise I agree with you to some extent Craig. Whilst the Tories and Lib Dems are about as effective as a chocolate teapot, at least you in the BNP get off your backside and try to generate some interest in local politics even though your policies are distasteful.

The real battle for this city is between Labour, the BNP and those who agree with the BNP but lack the honesty to admit they do (a large number of 'Independents').

Alison said...

I really think that people in this city don't vote because they don't believe anything is going to change.

Even when there is an opportunity to change the way the city is governed/led, the turnout is less than 20%. How can this be right?

For too long, the people who have run this city have let local citizens down. A history of a labour stronghold council, mismanagement and non-accountability, and 2 failed Elected Mayors, have brought the people to the point where they expect very little from the council, and certainly don't expect change for the better.

To a point, I agree with some of the comments made that voting should be made compulsory, but I aren't sure that this will have the right result. For instance, will it make people more interested in local politics? I don't think so. Will it make more people interested in national politics? Again, I don't think so.

What we need are councillors who are passionate about the city, and passionate about making a difference for the people who live and work in Stoke on Trent. They need to be people from all walks of life, all political parties, to challenge and debate in a healthy way. There should of course be one common goal - the best outcomes for the people of Stoke on Trent.

We need regeneration, an injection of new businesses to provide more and better jobs, improved services - education, health, social services - we need better community facilities, and we need to make Stoke on Trent a "nicer" place to live. We need local people to rally round and work together, to change things for the better.

Let's have some belief that we can make Stoke on Trent great again. The people of this city are renowned for their friendly approach. Let's be renowned for our determination to succeed, bring about change for the better, and make Stoke on Trent great.

Joke on Trent should become a thing of the past. We can do it!

nicky said...

I'll tell you something about that high turn out for Trentham and Hanford. That was people bothering to vote despite the fact that we all knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that Terry Follows was going to win it. Now if Ibbs had been up for re-election the turn out would have been through the roof just for the pleasure we would've got (or most of us anyway) from voting for someone else!

If there is a strong reason to vote, more people will turn out. But the other side of that is if they don't do we conclude they are happy and all is well with the world? Well no I don't think so.

Bob, as you know I don't regard anyone other than a labour/tory/libdem conspiritor as necessarily a crank or crackpot.

I think in marginal areas where one vote has more chance of making a difference, there is higher turn out.

I don't think voting should be compulsory, I just find that too dictatorial. I would like to see more people vote by persuasion, but if they don't at least we've got the ones who care and therefore matter most.

I guess by definition there won't be many apathetic people bothering to contribute to this site. So I suppose as an ex-apathetic person I need to tell you when I didn't vote the reasons for that, so that you can all shout at me. In fact I would shout at myself, as I no longer agree with what I thought then, although I can still remember how I felt. So reasons, varying in degree of bizarreness, as to when I haven't voted, why that was;

1. When my children were at primary school if the school was closed, as for elections, I needed to find childcare for them, as it didn't alter the fact that I had to work and I couldn't normally get a day off. But the normal school holiday childcare I used was not guaranteed on an odd day, especially as some of the childcare workers also had issues with that day and tried to take a day off. So it caused a big practical headache. Then I just felt that I didn't want to cooperate with such an election system that caused me so much of a problem as a working parent. So I didn't vote because I was too peed off with it. I still believe that schools should not be closed for election days.

2. I used to be a pretty solid labour 'voter' (when I bothered) but living in an area that was pretty solid conservative or independent, my labour vote wasn't going to do anything so why bother.

3. As a labour 'voter' only getting conservative and independent leaflets made me think well if the labour candidate can't be arsed to tell me anything why should I be arsed to vote for them.

4. Well I never did like Blair but as it gradually dawned how bad he was I began to think; none of the parties are actually any good so who the hell do I vote for? Might as well not bother.

Now to the present day - well number 4 is still somewhat of an issue with me. But I would bother to go out and put something on the ballot paper, even if I had to resort to writing 'none of the above' on the bottom of it if I really could not decide. But it's likely I think in a local election that there would be a decent independent candidate to vote for, like there was last time, so I would be ok.

TAG Fan said...

"But it's likely I think in a local election that there would be a decent independent candidate to vote for, like there was last time, so I would be ok."

So what about these former Independent councillors Nicky. Not exactly what you would describe as decent are they?

Jenny Holdcroft - created racial unrest in Burslem and Cobridge through her 'campaigns'.

Ted Owen - has been in more parties than most people have had hot dinners and now asks people to elect him first then tells them afterwards which party he will be joining.

Dave Chatton - was able to show the invisible man a thing or two on how not to get seen and was then done for drink driving.

Barry Cuthbertson - the only councillor in Stoke-on-Trent to have defected to the BNP so far.

John Lamingman - banned from holding public office for 5 years for sexually harassing a council officer. Arrested at Port Vale and a takeaway in Burslem for public order offences.

And the best - Lee Wanger. On the sex offenders register for 5 years for child porn.

nicky said...

But I did say "decent". I did not say I would vote for any independent candidate. I'm not saying that every independent councillor will necessarily be decent, I think you've got to look carefully at who you've got and make the best decision you can. I have found no problem with Terry Follows as yet. Plenty of other people agreed with me at the last election.

The difficulty would be if there was an independent standing who I didn't agree with. And I wouldn't vote tory whilst Ibbs is still in charge. So that would leave me with a labour or libdem protest vote that wouldn't do anything. Or else I would resort to the spoilt ballot as that's probably a better protest indicator.

Shaun Bennett said...

It seems that I had the honour of losing in the highest turnout election in the city this year! It just goes to show that when people really care about the choice on offer, and the issues involved they are prepared to come out and vote.

I don't think that Stoke-on-Trent is any better or worse than most other places in the country though when it comes to turnout.

I will slightly disagree with Bob Bagley with regards to the Longton South ward. I did a lot of campaigning in that ward this year during breaks from Trentham. Whilst I'm sure many of the Labour voters were terrified about the BNP and turnout accordingly, in fact it was us that took second place in the ward, and I for one never thought for a second that the BNP were any sort of threat there.

I would also point out that Cllr Ali was looking quite worried early in the night, and it looks like the Tories may well have carried the Western part of the ward closest to Blurton, Fenton and Longton. Certainly, everybody in the Longton Hall Lane area seemed to be voting Tory and when the boxes were tipped out at the count it looked very promising at that end of the ward.

With boundary changes expected to perhaps create a better ward in that area, I predict that people there will be seeing plenty of activity from the Tories in years to come.

Craig Pond said...

Shaun,
I see you're back on your soapbox, but this time what you say is right, it's just your conclusions that are way off.
Longton, Tunstall, Burslem, all got top end turnouts, and this is the strength of the Paki's and jigaboos, they will get out and vote (they shouldn't be allowed to vote), where as I just pound arses, preferably Terry's.
Without doubt, the electorate should be made to vote for the BNP. Sitting at home watching the telly simply isn't good enough when the possibility of an all-white city is at stake.
In between time, we should publish ward lists of Muslims and brand them, so we can tell them to shut up when they start complaining about BNP ethnic cleansing.