Poor election turn-out is really a protest vote

Share this article

I have always thought of your frequent contributor Michael Sutcliff as a realist whose views I generally tend to agree. Not this time, however (Letters, June 21st).

As the recent county council elections showed here in Lancashire, UKIP’s 15% share of the vote had the effect of handing 14 former Conservative seats to the opposition – 12 of them to Labour – and of bringing down an excellent Conservative-led council. That was not a “protest vote”; it was a destructive vote which gained no representation on the county council for those 12,000 UKIP voters.

I agree wholeheartedly with Mr Sutcliff’s concern about low turn-outs but, failing the emergence of a political Messiah, that is the situation.

Like it or not, the General Election of 2015 will be won by one of the two usual protagonists. While I have no objection to anyone voting for a party other than the one they have usually supported if that other party more closely represents their current views, to do so as a so-called protest vote can cause unpredictable and unnecessary chaos if it is done on a large enough scale.

No, the only real protest vote is actually a non-vote – which is what the low turnouts actually demonstrate. The voter apathy normally blamed for a low turnout is largely a silent protest against politicians’ inability to stimulate public interest.

The non-vote is, in fact, the passive equivalent of Michael Sutcliff’s desired “none of the above” on the voting slip, but the politicians don’t seem to grasp this. And while Labour moves right and the Conservatives move centre towards the Lib-Dems, nothing will change.

Perish the thought of another coalition government of some knd, but that currently appears to be the likeliest outcome in 2015 unless we actually vote for either of two main and increasingly unappealing parties and then apply that voting toi insist – by public protest if necessary – that our voices be heard.

John Lustig

Skipton Road, Earby