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The Dragon Says: ‘We Get the Government We Deserve’

Published on: 13 May, 2012
Updated on: 13 May, 2012

Who cares if you vote in a local election?

It won’t make any difference will it? They are just a glorified opinion poll of what we think of the national parties aren’t they?

With our current system and electoral culture this is an understandable view.

On the 3rd May Keith Witham was elected as the County Councillor for Worplesdon, an extensive division that includes Normandy and Pirbright. The Guildford Dragon says congratulations to him and good luck. He will be doing an important job that will take a significant amount of his time for little reward, as do all councillors.

The voters in the division actually bucked some national trends. The Tory vote increased slightly and the LibDems were not given such a kicking as they have been in other areas. There was even a little good news for the Labour candidate who almost doubled the party’s, albeit small, share of the vote.

The Guildford Dragon says it was good that they bucked the trend. Too often voters vote for a party in the same way that they might support a football team. Because they have always liked the reds, the blues, the yellows or whatever they carry on doing so or, perhaps, they are mainly swayed by how they feel about the current national political situation.

Of course, the biggest vote is always for the ‘Stay at Home Can’t be Bothered’ party. In last week’s election that was about two thirds of the electorate. Can we blame them? Aren’t they right to think that their vote won’t make any difference?

Perhaps –  and our ‘first past the post’ system does not help. Cllr Witham was right to be proud of attracting over 50% of the total votes cast: it is quite an achievement in any election and strengthens his mandate. However, his vote still only represents about one fifth of the electorate, not that that is his fault in any way.

Our votes certainly can’t make any difference if we don’t even cast them and anyone who has not voted has a weaker position when it comes to complaining about the relevant councillors or council afterwards.

Occasionally, a particular local issue might assume a higher than usual profile and dictate a local result. In the Worplesdon division the main issues seemed to have been the state of the roads and sites for travellers but they probably didn’t significantly affect the result.

Anyway, the Guildford Dragon will not be telling you which way to vote we will be simply encouraging you to do so and to find out first what the candidates will do about the local issues that concern you.

It is said that in democracies we get the government we deserve. There is some truth in that. What do those that can’t be even bothered to vote deserve? A government, at whatever level, that is not too bothered about what they think perhaps?

In the meantime, until the next local elections, The Guildford Dragon will be continuing to do our best to keep you informed on all local political activity that affects Guildford without fear or favour.

We hope that you will keep reading and even better send in even more letters and comments. The more information there is and the more views that are expressed the more informed our voting decisions can be and the healthier our democracy, something we too easily take for granted, can become.

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test One Response to The Dragon Says: ‘We Get the Government We Deserve’

  1. Bernard Parke

    May 14, 2012 at 8:16 am

    The fact is that you cannot serve two masters.

    Either councillors listen to the needs of the people of Guildford or pay heed to their parties and their local leaders.

    They cannot do both.

    Dare I say they that are told not to speak out until they are told to. If this is the case, democracy as we knew it no longer exists.

    It is almost within living memory that people stood for election as independents concerned only with the needs of Guildford.

    It would be difficult to return to those halcyon days now. The local party associations have more cash and manpower to fight elections than the man in the street.

    The present system does not acknowledge the contributions some individual councillors can make simply because they are sponsored by the wrong party. Indeed until only fairly recently the office of Mayor could only be offered to Tories.

    This has now changed for the better. Perhaps the time has now come to offer some seats on the important executive committee to councillors whose main interests do not lie in the rural villages but in the town of Guildford itself.