Friday 21 June 2024

All the Parties Fail in This Election


Today is the longest day of the year and it is also the day that my postal vote form arrived through my letterbox. By mid-afternoon I had ticked the box for Tracy Gilbert the Labour candidate and put the sealed ballot paper into an envelope and put it into a postbox. That's it for me, the election is over.

The ballots started to go out in Edinburgh on the 19th of this month so most postal voters will have their ballots by now. Most will cast their ballots within 24 hours of receiving the papers, so for a sizeable chunk of the electorate their involvement has come to an end. For a much larger chunk who are glued to their televisions watching the Euro 2024 finals or are in Germany cheering on the team in person, the elections probably never started, but never mind that. They are still hors de combat.

As more people vote by post, the parties have developed a strategy to maximise their vote by getting letters out to the postal voters as near as possible to the day that the ballot papers arrive. Too early and the voters have junked the leaflets; too late and they will already have voted. The sweetspot is to get the party propaganda delivered along with the ballot papers, but since that is almost impossible to guarantee, the sensible position is to get the leaflets out no more than two days before the ballots are delivered. Labour and the Liberal-Democrats managed that as their leaflets arrived on Wednesday but no other party bothered to try.

Here in Edinburgh North & Leith, nobody I know has heard a thing from the SNP who are defending the seat. I hear reports that they are concentrating on the part of Leith that has been gentrified and where the students live, but I have not spoken to anyone who has actually seen SNP canvassing teams out. As for the Tories, they have a candidate, but damned if I know anything about her.

My ballot paper also has six Mickey Mouse candidates as well. Some Greenie woman, a fellow from the Scottish Family Party which opposes abortion, a Communist and a Socialist Labour wallah, both of whom work at that hotbed of militant proletarianism otherwise known as the Unversity of Edinburgh and a Reform UK man who I was going to vote for until I realised that his email was out of order and that he had no plans to fix it and he didn't have a mobile telephone. I don't know why that is, he may think that are a tool of the Devil for all I know, but all told it makes him look a very unserious candidate to me. The final minnow is an independent who is supposedly standing for Edinburgh People, a party so new that it is not registered with the electoral commission, so its candidates have to call themselves independents.

With the honourable exception of Labour and the Lib-Dems, none of this shower has even sent out a leaflet so far, and if they do send one they are wasting their time with the postal voters as we have almost all voted by now. So what is going on?

My theory is that as party politics become more and more of a game for a coterie of middle class people, they have decided to compete with each other in the shallow pool of voters who are committed enough to carry on voting. Of course, this means that turnout will continue to decline, but so long as the parties can get enough people elected, they are not going to bother about that.

They seem to think that if we cannot be bothered to search them out, they cannot be bothered knocking on our doors to ask for our votes. So they won't get our votes as we will concentrate on the football instead.

That attitude is very bad for democracy and the health of the party system, but I don't think they care so long as enough of their candidates are elected.

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