What remains abundantly clear is that a very small minority of voters chose to legitimise the PCC elections by expressing a preference of candidates.
The issue of whether the PCC elections were legitimate is not in dispute, the election itself didn't actually require 'legitimising' and the absence of voters who actually chose not to vote doesn't in any way negate the legitimacy of the election.
The PCC elections were lawful and therefore legitimate in the eyes of the law. One could accurately describe the elections, and the deliberate exclusion of public participation on the process of deciding whether to replace multi-member cross-party police authorities with a single person, as being 'within the rules'
...but that doesn't legitimise the elections in the hearts and minds of those others, like me, who were and will remain opposed to the change.
In my opinion the PCC elections demonstrate exactly what happens when the democratic process is incorrectly used to pursue a party political policy objective after cutting the electorate out of the earliest parts of the decision making loop - one of the perils of having a 'representative democracy' is the possibility that those who 'represent' tend to represent their own political wishes, objectives and parties without any reference to the electorate. We regularly see this in Swindon with Rod Bluh et al.
Taking short cuts to make changes in governance, whether it be council leadership models or police and fire authorities, will result in the electorate withdrawing even further from the process itself and each time a council or government short-changes the electorate in this manner it pushes the entire democratic process further towards Banana Republican models.
I further suggest that the coalition government was
concerned about the perceived legitimacy of the PCC elections and so dropped the first past the post system of election in favour of 'preference' voting - which will always show the winning candidate as having more than 50% of the vote, even when 85% of the electorate didn't vote.
In general and local elections voters do not always agree with 100% of the manifestos presented, nor do they neccesarily like or support the individual standing, all too often the decision is made purely on Party Politicla grounds. That there isn't 100% agreement doesn't negate the legitimacy of the election, the candidate or the result.
A significant number of that small minority also state that they did not agree with the creation of PCC's but voted for a PCC candidate anyway. I doubt that I need to point out the attendant irony
Many people didn't agree with unitary authorities but still voted for the councillors who made up the body political - that's what happens in a democracy. We compromise and make adjustments, some may call it 'forsaking principles' others may call it pragmatism. Whatever name you give it is fine, when reality dictates that an action will occur, you can be a part of the process or outside of the process, the choice is always and only YOURS
An interesting and oft-repeated (with minor variations) point of view which shows what I think is wrong with contemporary political thinking - namely that a small minority of the electorate willingly accept and vote on variations of 'Hobsons Choice' - delivered to them by an even tiner number of Parliamentarians. In this instance, adopting a 'pragmatic' and 'compromise' acceptance of an unwanted, (albeit 'legal' election), pretty much guarantees that yet more damaged, corrupted and unfair political processes will continue to be delivered to the electorate and that greater numbers of the electorate will body-swerve to avoid them.
This might well be the politics of compromise, but it can't be described as consensus of electoral opinion, and even the term 'governance by consent' is starting to look shaky with less and less people demonstrating their consent to being governed by their taking part in elections. 'Apathy' is too convenient and simple a term, and too broad a brush to accurately describe the decline in electoral participation yet voter 'apathy' is the usual excuse offered by apologists for bad electoral process.
Many non-voters I've spoken to repeat variations on a common theme: They do not feel that their vote counts for anything and they feel essentially powerless to change anything. I don't think this is apathy, I think it is a damning indictment of our 'style' of democracy and dominance of party politics. If the former is true of at least 51% of Britains non-voting electors, this would seem to indicate that 'our' democracy isn't working for the majority of the electors, let alone the larger population.
Reál Politik is one thing, and I think most of us would accept day to day pragmatism and compromise in politics and government, but not when it comes to democracy and elections, and the reasons for holding elections. No compromise should be expected or allowed to creep into elections or the reasons for calling elections, but this election reeks of compromise, Reál Politiks and political agendas being played out.
The PCC elections are just the latest pus-filled bubo to appear on the diseased carcass of the body politic.
"Would sir prefer the noose, the axe or the guillotine?"Elector:
"Sir must choose between the noose, axe or guillotine. I have been democratised and electors are asked to elect a specific type of death"Elector:
"Erm...I'd like to die at home, in bed, of extreme old age then!"Death:
"That choice is not on your ballot paper sir!"Elector:
"Oh, doesn't seem very fair....can I vote 'none of the above'?"Death:
"No, your options are noose, axe or guillotine.....but I suppose you could
spoil your ballot" Elector:
"That means I get to die of old age, in bed then?"Death:
"No, it means you commit suicide"Elector:
"Yes, suicide by hanging."Elector:
"There isn't much choice is there?, but wait a minute, I wasn't even asked if I wanted
to make this choice, who decided this?"Death:
"Not you, but look, if it's any consolation I'm not happy about this either, it's going to get very boring for me, nothing but dropping, chopping and slicing, I mean, less variety, less travel, production line decapitation, ropes hanging all over the place, longer hours and less pay. What about my job satisfaction eh?"Elector:
"What happens if I don't vote, do I even have to vote?"Death:
"Erm....no. You don't have
to vote, but you should be aware of the consequences of not voting!"Elector:
"And they are?"Death:
"You'll be called apathetic!"Elector:
"WTF!??? - I didn't even want this election and you give me three unacceptable choices to vote for - this is Hobsons Choice and you dare call me apathetic?"Death:
"Well, I've got to say something to the media if you don't vote, I could tell them that you 'didn't understand the election' I suppose"Elector:
"How about telling the truth - tell them that I didn't want an election anyway, the choices were unacceptable and 'None of the above' wasn't on the ballot slip?"Death:
"Look, I think we can reach a compromise solution"Elector:
"Yes. The election is going to happen whether you like it or not so you might as well vote, so why not vote for whatever option is least-worst?"Elector:
"I'm not so sure I like the sound of this" Death:
"No, hear me out, this is brilliant....how about I give you two votes? Your first vote is for your first preferred method of death, and your second vote is for your second death preference, sort of a two for the price of one and gives you a better chance of getting the guillotine or the axe if you don't want the rope!"Elector:
"But I don't want the guillotine, the axe or the f*cking rope, I want to die at home, in bed, of extreme old age.....in fact, now I come to think of it, I want women as well....and I don't want to dies of old age at all.... I want to die of sexual exhaustion!"Death:
"I don't think you understand, that's not
what you're being offered! what you are
being offered is the axe, the guiilotine or the chance to dance the Hemp Fandango"Elector:
"I didn't like Strictly come dancing so I'm not interested in the Hemp Fandango, or the Sisal Two-Step come to think of it, but why aren't cardiac arrest, stroke and spontaneous human combustion on the candidate list?"Death:
"Well, redundant actually. We had to let them go. Too expensive you see - heart attacks and strokes often lead to lengthy and expensive stays in hospital so it's better for the economy if those are no longer an option. The axe and the guillotine are quicker and cheaper, much better for everyone!"Elector:
"Not if you're the poor f*cker with his head on the block! it isn't" Death:
"That's sexist. We're fully compliant with equal opps and diversity training so I must point out to Sir that it would be Sir or Madam's head on the block, and I would be saying 'Haeed' if Sir was Scottish"Elector:
"Jesus Christ on a bloody bicycle....anyway, no, I won't be voting"Death:
"But if you don't vote, you can't influence the outcome!"Elector:
"I didn't want the election and none of the choices are good choices......so the outcome of the election is irrelevant to me!" Death:
"You've got to be in it to win it!"Elector:
"This isn't a game show..."Death:
"Go with the flow?"Elector:
"Like a kidney stone?"Death:
"Well, you are giving me some pain and I do wish you would p*ss off!"Elector:
" No sooner said than done my old mate!" [departs]Death:
"Whoops, that's 85 out of every 100 not voting....what is
wrong with all these people?"[/b]