A couple of days ago I received a letter from my Conservative candidate who is, on the whole, not too bad for a Tory. The letter was not about his most recent achievements (I get e-mails about that) but about postal voting, the big heading being: “Why not vote from the comfort of your own home?” The answer to that, Mr Bailey, is that voting in an election ought not to be the same as voting for some TV celebrity. These days, of course, it is considered to be less important but this sort of chummy advertising is not going to improve people’s attitude to politics and politicians.
Then there is a great deal of waffle about the likelihood of a handful of votes deciding the issue in Hammersmith (entirely possible and he has his leaders to blame for that) as well as the fact that turn-out has been going down in the last few elections.
What might be the reason for that?
One of the reasons why so few people managed to vote was their busy lifestyles meant they found it hard to find time on a weekday to get to the polling station. Similarly the elderly and less mobile often find it difficult, or people called away on business at short notice.So he is encouraging us all to apply for a permanent postal vote, thus making it completely unnecessary to have any voting stations at all.
In a time where fewer and fewer people are bothering to vote it is a duty of all parties to try and prevent voter apathy and show electors that their vote is important. [This is copied verbatim so don’t blame me for the grammar.]Where does one start? Well, actually, I know: I would start by suggesting that Mr Bailey gets himself office staff who are more literate and are capable of re-reading letters before sending them out.
Secondly, let me point out that people not voting is not a sign of apathy. Nor is it the outcome of a busy life-style (no time between 7 am and 10 pm?) or of being called away on business at a short notice (how many people have to deal with that?). Not voting has been a calculated decision by various people because their dislike for all politicians and the dawning understanding that it makes very little difference who gets into the House of Commons have outweighed the normal British feeling of duty to vote. Sending condescending letters to constituents is not going to counter that; having policies that people can vote for might.
Thirdly, Mr Bailey has clearly not heard of the electoral fraud that has followed the decision to let anyone and everyone have a postal vote for as long as they like. How well does he know anything about recent political developments?
My final point is a question I have asked myself despairingly over and over again: who on earth advises these people?