Copeland and Stoke say a little about party politics but a lot about the state of the country

On Thursday, 52000 people went to the polls in Copeland and Stoke on Trent Central to elect their new MPs. Both seats were previously held by Labour. Labour held onto Stoke, but were beaten by the Conservatives in Copeland. People are using these results in order to speculate wildly about the future of various political parties. Labour holding Stoke is a good sign. Labour losing Copeland means Corbyn should resign. Conservatives taking Copeland is a sign of support for May’s hard Brexit. Everyone is very happy that Nuttall lost. And so on.

However, looking at the voting data available, I think there are two far more important warnings to be taken from these results. We need to look at the numbers, which I’ll round out for the sake of easier reading. All stats are taken from Britain Elects so please check there for exact figures.

Firstly, a lot of voters are walking away from this vote unrepresented. In Stoke, Labour won by gaining 37.1% of the vote. In Copeland, Conservatives took 44.3% of the vote. This means that 62.9% and 55.7% of the people who voted are not being represented by the person they wanted. That translates into roughly 30,000 people across two constituencies, against only 21,000 who did get what they wanted.

Secondly, let’s look at the overall turnout of both votes. In Copeland, turnout was 51.4%, in Stoke, 38.2%. Stoke, in 2015, 2010 and 2005, had a turnout of 49.9%, 53.2% and 48.4%. In Copeland, in the same years, had turnouts of 63.8%, 67.6%, and 62.3%. Some of these numbers are not great in their own right, but they are all higher than the turnouts we saw on Thursday. In both constituencies, half or more of voters simply did not vote at all.

What can be concluded from all these numbers? To me, it seems obvious. If the trends seen in these two constituencies echo throughout the country, then we have a major problem that we need to deal with. The British public are becoming increasingly unrepresented in our representative democracy. Many people simply are not engaging with the democratic process at all, and many of those who do are cold shouldered due to an archaic voting system.

If things continue the way they are, then we are going to end up with Britain full of disillusioned citizens, refusing to vote for people who do not represent them, in order to create an increasingly powerful, increasingly uncaring Government. Many people claim that Brexit was an act of rebellion, a grand objection to this horrible state of affairs, a demand for something better. I believe this is true, but Brexit will not fix this problem, not by itself.

There are many stories like this, in both history and in fiction, and they rarely have happy endings. The Liberal Democrats helped shine a light on this problem during the coalition, and other small parties like the Greens and UKIP have voiced their objections and desire for change. There is a major appetite for change, but until every party and every politician starts taking this problem seriously, Britain will continue to suffer.

* Nathan Sinclair is a Liberal Democrat in Lewisham

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50 Comments

  • I agree that much of the Brexit vote was about a resentment, even anger about swathes of the population being left behind. The high turn-out for that vote is a clear indication that the low turn-out at other elections cannot just be blamed on apathy towards politicians, but about a sense that they are all as bad as each other, or that voting changes nothing.

    The mot obvious response should be to change our voting system to something more representative, but of course those who currently hold power daren’t admit to that. Much easier to blame Brussels, the Law Courts, or even the House of Lords. The latter is definitely in need of reform, but once again, this is mainly a diversion tactic.

    The huge gap between those who express concern about voter engagement, and those who are prepared to change the system that got them elected, shows just why people are right to be disillusioned with politicians. However, I do think that a bit like our own polling figures, support for change is growing, and the only way is up.

    IMO, now is the time for us to campaign hard for electoral reform of the House of Commons. This needs to extend beyond “vote for us, because we support electoral reform”, and just be a campaign to persuade the public that it should be a priority, and they should be demanding it of the next candidate who comes to visit.

    The Parliament petition calling for a debate now has over 80,000 signatures (https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/168657), and it has a very strong chance of being debated, but to have true impact, it needs more MPs from other parties to support it. There are a handful in Labour who are actively supportive, and now has to be the ideal time to persuade more and more that FPTP isn’t doing them any favours. I say, we use the up-coming local elections as an opportunity to raise this issue on the door-step, especially amongst those who think it’s all pointless, and encourage people to lobby their local MP to support it.

  • I don’t actually disagree with most of this, but disengagement from electoral politics is a perfectly rational response to a world in which, largely because of the shift of power to globalised corporations, ‘it doesn’t matter who you vote for because the Government always gets in’, and the Government doesn’t have much power to change things any more. Sure, some MPs are going to be better at sorting out their constituents’ problems than others, but not many people vote, especially at a by-election, in the belief that their chosen candidate is going to be able to bring jobs and prosperity to the area if elected. Working men (and to a lesser extent, women) in this country used to have a sense of personal empowerment through stability of employment and through membership of trades unions (and therefore a stake in the Labour Party). Margaret Thatcher speeded up the decline that was already well advanced but gave people the opportunity to feel empowered by buying their council houses, and shares in utility companies. Those were one off strategies, and there are no more levers for the government to pull. Theresa May’s empty rhetoric will in due course be seen for what it is: Copeland may be her government’s high water mark.

  • Storm Doris was horrendous. That must have affected turn out, as well.

  • Referendums attract more voters because they are about specific things. I don’t think the EU referendum was mainly about resentment. I think it really was about the EU. The reason the resentment idea has taken hold is because parts of the remain camp, especially on the liberal Left, simply can’t accept the idea that some of their voters aren’t actually that keen on such a key project. They were supposed to vote along party lines, but people are not neatly divided into loyal liberals, socialists, conservatives and nationalists. So when you get a vote like this the splits show more.

  • Michael Cole 25th Feb '17 - 12:58pm

    @ Fiona:
    “The mo[s]t obvious response should be to change our voting system to something more representative, but of course those who currently hold power daren’t admit to that.”

    I wholeheartedly agree. That’s why I am actively campaigning in a movement MVM (Make Votes Matter). This movement is ostensibly an all-Party movement but is in fact run by Labour. About a year ago I approached various LD’s, in particular LDER, to find out what they were doing. To my disappointment I discovered that they were doing nothing in terms of active campaigning. Indeed, when I suggested that we might begin to set up local street stalls the reaction was almost hostile and I was met with the excuse that “We are unable to do anything due to lack of resources …” So I engaged with MVM because it was the only game in town. Our Party has urged electoral reform and Fair Votes since the days of Jo Grimond, and possibly before. It is wrong that our Party is not in the vanguard of the campaign.

    Fiona goes on to say “IMO, now is the time for us to campaign hard for electoral reform of the House of Commons. This needs to extend beyond “vote for us, because we support electoral reform and (just) be a campaign to persuade the public that it should be a priority,” Yes, that is why I believe that we must take the issue of Fair Votes directly to the public and create a grass roots movement. Most Westminster MPs have ‘safe seats’ so why would they change anything ? I use the old cliche ‘Turkeys don’t vote for Xmas.’

    Are there any LDs out there who agree ?

  • Glenn,

    A none scientific survey of leave voters I have taken(i.e they felt they had to tell me) breaks down as follows.

    Vote leave to regain sovereignty :-1
    Vote leave because his girl friend told him too :-1
    Voted leave because her dad and mum had :-1 (the girl friend)
    Voted leave because his wife is German and it would wind her up :-1. Interestingly enough now planning to move to Germany, because his wife doesn’t like it here any-more, he’s a very sad panda.
    Voted leave to get rid of the immigrants, especially the Muslim ones :-4. All four are waiting for Labour to get rid of Corbyn and elect a leader who will do this.
    Voted leave because our management had advised a remain vote :-2. No way they’d do what management was telling them, they’d show them.

    Now that is only a survey of my family, friends and workmates who feel they have to explain their actions or in some cases revel in it. Many more don’t mention Brexit and they may be as you say they have voted leave after carefully considering the issues, I rather doubt that though, as Aaron Banks said

    “The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact. It just doesn’t work. You have got to connect with people emotionally. It’s the Trump success.”

    Just a thought though, emotions tend to lead to rash decisions of which we will all repent at a later date.

  • The British press has overhyped serial losers UKIP for too long

    http://uk.businessinsider.com/british-press-overhyped-losers-ukip-stoke-on-trent-central-by-election-paul-nuttall-2017-2

    An article that accurately show what a threat UKIP are at the moment; they are not they are just a mess. I suspect the mainstream media will disregard the evidence and regroup and start puffing them up again, after all they make such good headlines. I’m waiting for the “UKIP candidate ate my Hamster” headline in the Sun.

  • Christopher Haigh 25th Feb '17 - 1:52pm

    @frankie, your posts are hilarious and too true ! Seriously my next door neighbour was close to tears when I told him that I was a remain voter. It was taken as written at working men’s clubs that I’m involved with all were leavers. The atmosphere for any honest debate was poisonous.

  • Peter Watson 25th Feb '17 - 1:57pm

    @frankie “The remain campaign featured fact, fact, fact, fact, fact.”
    I don’t believe it was as clear cut as that (or in the least bit true for most campaigning by both sides!).

    Remaining in the EU would mean that our day-to-day lives would continue as before, and people’s present tense was the only “fact” they fully understood. Everything else was conjecture about what “change” in the form of Brexit would lead to. Some believed it would make things better, some believed it would make things worse. Many had no idea either way so abstained or went with a gut-feeling.

    I suspect that for many voters it was something of a gamble: those with more to lose bet on the status quo and those with less to lose were more prepared to bet that change would not make their lives worse, and it is the divide between these two groups that I believe leads to a lot of the heat in the Brexit debate.

  • Hi Michael – I’ve been following the work of Make Votes Matter with great interest. The promise of PR has always been one of the reasons I’ve given when asked why I support the LibDems, and I am proud that it has long been one of our policies, but these days it feels like it’s been put on the back-burner.

    I think you and the MVM campaign are right to target grass roots support, but grass roots support needs nurturing, and I would like to see this party do more. That said, it may be no bad thing that the “all-party-group” is being lead by Labour, as it is Labour politicians, members and voters that need the most persuasion, and that includes persuading them that it’s not just a devious ploy by the LibDems to steal seats from them. It is important that the ideology feels compatible with their Labour values if it is to get the necessary uptake. I know there are a few Tories that support PR, but not many that are currently in a position of influence!

    A move towards PR wouldn’t just be good for the UK, but it could be what saves the UK. The SNP like to make a lot of noise about the “democratic deficit”, and they are right in so much as FPTP leaves whole parts of the country feeling neglected. They are a bit sneaky in that they like to talk about Scotland returning just one Tory MP, yet we have a Tory Government, hoping to get us all angry. Yet they know as well as anyone that FPTP under-represents the Tory support in Scotland, and over-represents it in the supposed Tory strong-holds.

    IMO, having a Parliament that better represents the UK is reason enough to want PR, but it will come with the added bonus of showing that we’re not that divided after all, and that there are supporters of all of the main parties in all parts of the countries, and crucially that no part of the country should be ignored by any party.

  • @Peter Watson

    That’s a quote from Aaron Banks and as he was a leader of the leave camp.

    As for your theory about those with nothing to lose voting leave, I believe the temptation” to stick it to the man” was indeed a major driver. I’m not sure voters who voted that way in the main differentiated between the EU or politicians in general, just as long as “the man got stuck”. The sad thing is they are likely to find they actually had things to lose and they are likely to lose them.

  • @Christopher Haigh

    You are too kind. It’s strange how we assume that people we know all think the same as us and how shocked and even angry they are when we find out they don’t. I’ve long ago stopped being shocked or angry (although the stupidity of Brexit has rather raised my dander) and try to settle for amused.

  • ‘Many people are simply not engaging in the democratic process at all’

    As we have been repeatedly told the greatest support for Remain at the referendum was young people 18 -24 and yet for an issue that was supposedly so important only 34% of this age group bothered to vote of which 75% voted Remain.

    So clearly the ‘great support’ was media hype or in reality young people were really not that bothered ?

  • @frankie and @Peter, my experience was that “nothing to lose” was the reason/explanation/excuse given to vote Brexit by a decent chunk of those I know who told me their decision and motives. The presumption that “things couldn’t get any worse” was not uncommon in certain groups in certain areas. Each time someone claimed that Brexit would be bad for business, the economy or the banking sector, many of them would say “so what?, it’s already bad for us”.

    There was a similar sentiment during the Scottish referendum.

    I wouldn’t be so bold to say that was the majority view of those who voted Leave or Yes, but it was a decent chunk of both groups, and as much as their reasoning had me tearing my hair out, it’s still a message we need to listen to. Leaving the EU/Scottish Independence is not the magic bullet to solve problems, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t problems that need fixing. We need to work out what will improve their situation and work towards achieving that before we have another damaging vote influenced by people who just want any old change.

  • @Fiona

    There is a level of desperation in this country that I truly believe the majority of politicians and even a majority of voters don’t understand or even acknowledge. Those at the bottom, forced to exist in the gig economy with minimum level wages (or worse) truly believe they have nothing to lose and there anger is currently easily directed at a perceived group called “the elite”. The problem they have is things actually can get worse (and are likely too), the question then is at what will they vent their anger at? I expect the answer to that is it’s likely to be vented in an unexpected and potentially violent way. We are sitting on a simmering volcano and I don’t think there is an understanding of that.

  • Michael Cole 25th Feb '17 - 5:47pm

    Hi Fiona and others,

    This thread seems to be covering a lot of ground ! Which is fine since Nathan Sinclair’s thoughtful contribution is primarily “about the state of the country.”

    Nathan is absolutely right in saying “The British public are becoming increasingly unrepresented in our representative democracy. Many people simply are not engaging with the democratic process at all, and many of those who do are cold shouldered due to an archaic voting system.” I think we all feel this; consequently the appalling FPTP voting system must be changed – for Westminster elections and for local elections; Scotland since 2007 has had STV for their locals and the “reform has been a proven success …”.

    I more or less agree with all of Fiona’s views (sorry, haven’t the space to reply separately to each point) and most of those of others here. Virtually all of our major issues and concerns (Brexit, the economy, NHS, etc), are rooted in the FPTP electoral system which encourages complacency, tribalism, short-termism and resistance to change. The Brexit mess into which the Tories have landed us would, almost certainly, never have happened under any kind of PR.

    We are holding a street stall in Crouch End on Sat 11 March from mid-morning. I think that we will strike a chord with the public; I’m hoping that we get a positive response and lots more signatures to our petition which is now well in excess of 80,000. All welcome, especially LDs.

  • David Blake 25th Feb '17 - 5:49pm
  • Michael Cole 25th Feb '17 - 6:18pm

    @David Blake

    On your recommendation I read the New Statesman article. It’s analysis is false on several counts which I will not bother to detail here. It comes as no surprise that they and Patrick Maguire are trying to pour cold water on our election results.

  • Frankie,
    I don’t think asking three people counts as a survey,

  • paul barker 25th Feb '17 - 7:03pm

    I was really pleased to read The New Stateman article reccomended by David Blake, the longer Labour supporters are blind to the threat we pose to them, the better. The article itself makes some fair points but it ignores the evidence from Council byelections.
    At some point Labour will notice us & panic, probably on May 5th but I doubt that will stop the flow of Labour articles proving that we arent really here.

  • Richard Underhill 25th Feb '17 - 7:54pm

    Those who have changed their minds (including Tunbridge Wells MP Greg Clark) are saying that they are “democrats”, by which they mean that they prefer direct democracy to representative democracy. Taken further this would mean frequent referendums on a variety of subjects as happens in Switzerland. Indeed the UK’s lack of experience of referendums might be one of the reasons why they have been handled so badly, by the late Jim Callaghan (SNP turkeys did vote for Christmas by triggering a vote of no confidence in 1979) and by David Cameron who agreed to an EU referendum when he had no sensible reason to suppose he could win it, contrary to the opinions of Chancellor George Osborne who expected to lose but supported his leader and Ken Clark, who had longer experience of these issues.
    The UK is better together, but changing the meaning of Yes and NO during the campaign in 2014 may have confused voters and led to increased distrust of politicians. Not allowing Scots in England to vote led to angry frustration. Allowing 16 year old scots living in Scotland to vote in the referendum in 2014 but not in the general election in 2015 was anomalous action from the start. Not allowing 16 year olds to vote in the 2016 referendum was another slap in the face to statements about their future and demonstrated a lack of commitment to continuing the process of democratising our politics. I raised this issue with several MPs at federal conference during the coalition and they all said that it would not be possible to persuade the Tories. One said that they had tried with votes in the Commons and been defeated by a tory-labour alliance.

  • Andy Coleby 26th Feb '17 - 9:32am

    On reading the newspapers’ analysis of the two bye-election results I find that The Observer is particularly depressing.
    I very rarely buy this newspaper but did today.
    Its continuous slavish devotion to a terminally ill Labour Party is nauseous.
    I wish it would wake up and realise that Labour is in its death throes and then move on.
    Labour under ANY new leader will be swept aside by the authoritarian May and her woefully unimaginative team.
    Only the LibDems can provide an antidote to mindless Toryism.

  • Daniel Walker 26th Feb '17 - 9:48am

    @john The 34% figure was only ever an estimate, based on previous data for young people’s votes. A post-referendum study found the youth turnout was 64%, although that is still lower than for retirees.

  • Andrew McCaig 26th Feb '17 - 10:28am

    NO NO NO! yet again the bogus data of 34% of 18-24 year olds voting in the referendum is quoted! The only figure based on polling data is 64%

    https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2016/jul/09/young-people-referendum-turnout-brexit-twice-as-high?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

    “As we have been repeatedly told the greatest support for Remain at the referendum was young people 18 -24 and yet for an issue that was supposedly so important only 34% of this age group bothered to vote of which 75% voted Remain.”

  • Peter Watson 26th Feb '17 - 11:26am

    @Andrew McCaig @Dan Walker @John
    I am concerned that there might be a confusion between “turnout” (i.e. the proportion of 18-24 years who were registered to vote) with the proportion of all 18-24 year olds. If fewer young people were registered to vote, then the lower proportion of all young people voting could be used as evidence that “in reality young people were really not that bothered”.

    Looking at the original report (http://www.ecrep.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/Did-young-people-bother-to-vote-in-the-EU-referendum.docx) it suggests that “turnout was 64% among 18-24 year olds” but elsewhere it talks about how “turnout is calculated in real life” and states, “Legally, electoral participation is the proportion of people who vote amongst eligible (registered) voters, and not amongst the population as a whole. The distinction is critical because we know that young people are far more likely not to be registered electorally than any other age group. In fact, in July 2014, the Electoral Commission confirmed that “younger people (under 35) are considerably less likely to be registered” with only 70.2% of 20-24 year old on electoral registers against 95.5% of 65+ year olds.”

    This suggests that the proportion of all 18-24 year olds who voted was indeed a lot less than for other age groups and the population as a whole (i.e. a smaller fraction of a smaller fraction, though possibly 64% of 70% = 45% rather than 34%). Regardless of this, even turnout amongst the youngest registered voters at 64% was significantly less than the average of 72%.

  • To clarify 64% of REGISTERED VOTERS in the age group 18-24 years voted. A large proportion of would -voters in that age group were not registered hence only an estimated 34% of that age group actually voted.

    Also worth noting that there is a general assumption that that the young people who did vote are a representative sample of all young people. But in fact they are a self-selected sample not a random sample.

    The media has said that Leave voters tend to work in lower paid occupations and be less well educated, (though the media tends to ignore the fact that older people had less educational opportunities in any case). It is likely that the young people who didn’t vote also work in less well paid occupations and have lower education and therefore fit the ‘Leave’ profile.

  • Richard Underhill 26th Feb '17 - 11:50am

    When computers crashed the deadline for electoral registration was extended slightly and the Leave side complained. There was an increase of registrations during that short period. What was missing was a large and effective campaign of registration of the kind that happened in the USA, to persuade those who agree with the cynical view “Don’t vote, it only encourages them” to act in their own interests.
    At PMQ David Cameron reluctantly agreed to a registration campaign, but it needed to be more effective. Of course the existence of “safe seats” breeds apathy, but there are no safe seats in a referendum, which may be part of why Nigel Farage and co. wanted one so much.

  • Richard Underhill 26th Feb '17 - 12:07pm

    The broadcasters need to be more careful about how they achieve balance. A Radio 4 programme “Call Nick Ross” had one guest, billed as an expert on Europe. His name was Bill Cash, a Tory MP known to other MPs as willing to bang on about Europe and bore for England in what he considered the national interest. In response to my question he listed all the main things he disliked about the EEC and said “Is that what you want?” I said “Yes” and the shock in the studio was evidenced by the silence of Nick Ross and Bill Cash.
    I was angry about the lack of balance in the programme and the failure of the experienced broadcaster Nick Ross to question his guest. It is not enough to achieve balance across several programmes, nor to measure what can be measured such as the quantity/s of time.

  • Andrew McCaig 26th Feb '17 - 12:48pm

    Dr Jay,
    The 36% was not some attempt to work out the actual proportion of young people who voted, but a large straw poll the day after the election (by Sky, as I recall). I agree that individual registration has greatly reduced the chance for participation among young people as they can no longer be registered by their parents. I find re-registering each year a bit of a faff so mobile young people in rented accommodation where generic mail from the council gets binned find it very hard. Many people think that the enthusiasm of the Tories for this new system was no coincidence… Turnout among students was also suppressed by the timing of the referendum just after the end of term when many were travelling, not living where they were registered, or at Glastonbury. Nevertheless I was very impressed when knocking up on the day in student and young professional areas in Leeds that I did not find a single young under 30 who was not voting and several had proxies for people who were away. Many young people understood very well how important this vote was for their futures and they turned out in much greater numbers than in any General Election. Meanwhile I still get very annoyed when I think of some of the older people I know who chose to ignore the views of their children and grandchildren… “We will decide for you as we always have” was the attitude…

  • Peter Watson 26th Feb '17 - 2:04pm

    @Andrew McCaig “Many people think that the enthusiasm of the Tories for this new system was no coincidence…”
    Sadly, as a coalition thing, at the time it looked like Lib Dems were also enthusiastic to minimise damage from disaffected student voters.

  • “Meanwhile I still get very annoyed when I think of some of the older people I know who chose to ignore the views of their children and grandchildren… “We will decide for you as we always have” was the attitude…”

    That’s one interpretation but there are others. I voted Remain in the first EU Referendum when I was 25. I now realise that as a 25 year old I got it wrong. I was naive and over optimistic. Many of my age are in the same position. We decided to correct the mistake of 40 years ago rather than listen to today’s 25 year olds who may be equally as naive and optimistic as we were. In any case my children voted as they wished and see no reason why I should give them an additional proxy vote. I believe in one person one vote.

  • Andrew McCaig 26th Feb '17 - 4:21pm

    Dr Jay,

    I just hope your children look back and thank you for your foresight in 20 years time.. I fear not however… I missed voting in the first referendum by a month but would have voted the same as I did last May – because I believe in collaborative international institutions, not nation states, as the safest way forward in this dangerous world. It is highly ironic that many people voted Leave in a reaction against globalisation, when it is only larger bodies like the EU that can stand up the global corporations that are now controlling our lives. Alone we will truly be leaves in the stream.. (I have been reading “Brave New World” recently! ). I realise that you probably interpret exactly the same data in exactly the opposite way!

    It is my opinion that many younger people instinctively share my views about the obsolescence of nation states, and unlike their political views are unlikely to change them as they get older. In that case 23rd June 2016 was the last chance for a Leave vote, because demographics are against it. If our actions have not killed the EU (which is possible, and would be the greatest negative consequence when historians look back), I believe we will be rejoining in 20 years time with a minimum of controversy! I hope I live to see it, just like many older people now seem to be so happy to be seeing us Leave! Remember that these 20-24 year olds who did note vote for one reason or another will be voting in much greater numbers when they reach 45! And the 50 year old group who narrowly supported Remain will be in the highest turnout category..

  • I think younger people generally are simply so interconnected now (the Facebook, Smartphone generation), that they SEE the world so differently to what we did even 15 years ago.
    Most simply do not see borders as significant, as technology has caused these ‘borders’ to tumble – connection via Skype, FaceTime is instant. 24 hour news, multichannel TV aside, the world has shrunk beyond comprehension.
    Some may argue it’s mostly the more educated that benefit and see the world this way and have the time and money to travel and explore – they however are the ones who will be in the positions to determine strategy tomorrow.
    I think these young adult once in positions of power will be increasingly of the view that you suggest above Andrew.

  • Young people are just old people in waiting. I don’t know why anyone thinks they’re anymore important than anyone else.

  • Hi Glenn
    Not sure if that’s directed at me?
    However just to clarify, I don’t think they are any more important and don’t subscribe to the view that the vote of one person is any more important or less valid than anyone else’s.
    My point is that today’s young have unprecedented and immediate connections with almost any part of the world (with a few obvious exceptions), which I think gives them a unique perspective on it, which has not been available to to previous generations.

  • It was more directed at the general veneration of da yoot. But the general problem with arguments about the death of of the nation state idea is that the nation state is the basis of all elections, the idea of citizenship and in most respects taxation. People who believe in a borderless world end up advocating apolitical meaningless platitudes about interconnectedness whilst doing little more than helping to fine tune search engines so that they can be flogged more junk by corporate tax avoiders who also believe in a borderless world where identity trumps political coherence.

  • @ Glenn “the general problem with arguments about the death of of the nation state idea is that the nation state is the basis of all elections, the idea of citizenship and in most respects taxation.”

    And how would you apply that to Scotland given the results in the EU referendum ?

  • Andrew McCaig 26th Feb '17 - 9:46pm

    Glenn,

    The point is not at all that the votes of young people are more important. Not at all, the views of all people are vital.

    But the EU Referendum result will have a much longer term effect on this country than any General Election… So it will inevitably affect young people more, because they will have to live with it for longer. That includes all those 16 and 17 year olds (who WERE allowed to vote in the Scottish referendum, for exactly the same reason)

  • David Raw,
    If they want another referendum that’s up to them , but at the moment they’re still British and 30 odd percent of them still voted Leave. It was a one person one vote ballot not a regional one.
    Personally, I’ve always suspected Scottish independence was more or less inevitable from the moment devolved parliaments were introduced. From what I gather, the EU is less keen on the idea and Scotland would not be in it even if it got independence.

  • Andrew McGaig
    But this was not the Scottish referendum and whilst 16-17 year olds were allowed to vote in that one the rest of Britain wasn’t. Had this happened I actually suspect a lot of English people would have voted for an independent Scotland, there was certainly a lot who thought fair enough. As it is Scotland voted to remain in the UK.

  • See we face another very difficult by election at Manchester Gorton, where the lagacy of Cleggie and his coalition caused us to lose 28% of our vote and go from a good pretty close second, (we fancied we might win it sometime), to a paltry fifth. Green came second with 9%. Hopefully we should get back into second place but long gone are the chances of winning, a by election there in the past would have been a good bet for a gain.
    Presume it will be held on election day, early May, but looking on the bright side we had a very large vote there for several years, loads of councillors, so will the people come back??

  • Legacy not lagacy, sorry.

  • Richard Underhill 27th Feb '17 - 9:38am

    An MP suggested that the Labour manifesto for the 1983 general election should contain all the policies passed by the Labour conference. This was presumably at Labour’s NEC. The proposal was adopted. Gerald Kaufman called it “the longest suicide note in history”, Labour went on to lose their deposit in 109 seats (Liberal-SDP Alliance none). Labour leader Michael Foot was reluctant to resign, but eventually did. Labour’s claim to be a democratic party should be seen in this light.

  • Me again: looked at the 2016 Council voting for figures for Gorton, wards of Fallowfield, Gorton N, Gorton S, Levenshulme, Longsight, Rushholme and Whalley Range:
    Labouer 16, 867
    Green 3,497
    Lib Dem 1,314
    Con 1,306
    UKIP 1,109 (only contested two of the wards!)

    Just shows how far we have fallen. We recently had Councillors there. On the basis of recent council by elections we may get back past the Greens, but I am sure they will plough resources in.

  • Theakes – we lost 86% of our vote between 2010 and 2015. The loss of 28% you refer to was the fall in our share of the total vote (Down from 32.6% share to 4.2%). Whether we can get anywhere close to that 32.6% again will show whether the damage NIck did to our electability in urban areas is temporary or more permanent. Sadly I think it will be the latter.

  • David Evans: yes that is what i meant down 28% our actual percentage vote, sorry i did not make that clearer. I fully endorse your summary, if only people had followed our reasoning through 2014 and 2015. But lets not sound smug. We are where we are.

  • Alex Macfie 28th Feb '17 - 7:10am

    Dr Jay: I think you are wrong to suppose that young people voted Remain out of “naive” and “optimistic” youthful idealism. I don’t think they even see it that way. Rather they voted Remain because of attunement to the realities of today’s political and economic world and how each option affects their prospects. They are, in other words, realists not idealists. If any group is guilty of naive idealism, it is those mainly older people who voted Leave out of nostalgia for a UK (or, more accurately, England) that never really existed in their lifetimes. They may also be voting out of self-interest, being quite happy for there to be a smaller pie if the absolute size of their own share is bigger.

    In the first Europe referendum, Remain was not necessarily considered to be the “progressive” position. A large chunk of the left considered the EEC to be a “capitalist club”, and this position was reflected in Labour’s Europe policy in the early 1980s. It is also undoubtedly still Jeremy Corbyn’s real view as well as that of many Corbynistas. Conservative politicians and voters were more likely than Labour ones to support remaining in the EEC. The business community, then as now, was largely pro-Europe. Support for the European project was never a matter of naive idealism, but for many people was plain realism.

  • “Support for the European project was never a matter of naive idealism, but for many people was plain realism.”

    For me it was naive idealism, for example I knew the EU had a cumbersome parliamentary system because of a cheap political fix but in my naivety , I thought that that would be sorted out in time. I never dreamt that 40 years later MEPs would still be shifting to Strasbourg every 4 weeks.

    Who would have thought either, that 40 years later, the first response to Brexit would be for the ORIGINAL SIX MEMBERS of the EU to announce that their foreign ministers would be meeting to consider a response to Brexit. How could anyone doubt for a moment that the EU was an undemocratic organisation rooted in the past? What a slap in the face for all those countries who had joined the EU since, to learn that the original six still regarded themselves as the inner circle.

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