Grantham Journal columnist: David Burling

David Burling - Labour
David Burling - Labour
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The last few busy weeks for me culminated on May 2 with the results of the county council elections in Lincolnshire.

My personal result was a strong performance even though I didn’t win. I secured 36.6 per cent of the vote, up from 10 per cent in 2009.

The Labour Party did secure a win in Grantham South with Charmaine Morgan to represent that division.

The biggest winner of the elections, though, was voter apathy. Three out of four people failed to vote so, in many divisions, less that 10 per cent of the county’s residents decided who will represent them.

Is this democracy? Certain sections of the political landscape bemoan trade union activities when their ballots have turnouts of less than 30 per cent, calling for more stringent rules on industrial action.

Yet these same politicians care very little that only a small minority of the population are engaging with the political processes.

Time and again on the campaign trail, residents would point out that they only see their politicians when they are looking for their vote.

A politician in the community is a rare sight outside of election time, according to many I spoke to.

Voter apathy is the responsibility of all elected representatives to counter, as when more and more people become disenfranchised with their politicians it creates a vacuum that will be exploited by populist, single issue politics that will not solve the wider issues. People will focus on one area of society such as immigrants, the benefits claimants, etc, blame them for the continuing problems in our economy, and employ a simplistic approach to eradicate them in a vain attempt to make society better.

We are already seeing this with the advancement of UKIP in Lincolnshire. Continued voter apathy will eventually lead to a correction. Where that correction takes us should be at the forefront of all our politicians’ minds.