Much has been made of Labour’s lowest ever share of the vote for a governing party. Some have gone further and made even more of the fact that, given turnout of only 61.3%, this translates as the lowest ever share of the electorate – 21.6%.
I say: so what? When 38.7% of the electorate determined to stay away from the polling stations for the 15 hours they were open last Thursday, they did so in the knowledge that many more of us would make the effort. This conscious decision is their entitlement in a country that doesn’t make voting compulsory, and the reasons for it should be considered by all those of us concerned about participation in the democratic process. However, this non-participation, whilst a symptom of perhaps other flaws in the electoral system, cannot be used to de-legitimize the choices made by the nearly two-thirds of us who were stirred from our armchairs last week. The non-voting minority have excluded themselves, so to factor them back in to any equation that calculates winning and losing shares, will not do.
I voted to register my support for the party of which I am member, albeit it could not and will not ever win in this constituency. The already glaring pointlessness of this exercise ought not to be further diluted by a self-excluding, responsibility-abdicating rump who not only sent out a signal that their existence should be ignored, but have sacrificed a say in the political affairs of this country for the next 4 or 5 years.