Coronavirus and elections

The Electoral Commission has recommended that the May local elections be postponed until the Autumn.

The Government has not yet responded but we will bring you the news when we hear.

Tomorrow ALDC will also be updating their advice to campaigners and canvassers in the light of today’s announcements from the Government. Again we will share as soon as we know.

* Mary Reid is a contributing editor on Lib Dem Voice. She was a councillor in Kingston upon Thames where she is still very active with the local party.

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20 Comments

  • Paul Barker 12th Mar '20 - 7:42pm

    I think we can be a bit more proactive rather than waiting for others. Now that The Electoral Commission has called for a delay to The Autumn we should back that call & suspend our own canvassing.

  • David Becket 12th Mar '20 - 9:37pm

    Well said Paul, in particular suspend 100,000 doors

  • It would be a high risk strategy on our part, but there is a strong likelihood in the next month of the health system collapsing under the weight of infections and people rounding on the government for not having introduced more stringent measures yesterday. We obviously should not try to make political capital out of this situation, but if we are seen to be doing the right thing now it will be in contrast to the “herd immunity” theories being followed by the government.

  • The Coronavirus isn’t going to be gone by the Autumn. Rather we are likely to face “waves” of outbreaks of it over the next two-three years.

    Postponing the local elections therefore makes little to no sense, unless we intend to repeatedly postpone the local elections.

  • Peter Watson 13th Mar '20 - 11:07am

    Another good reason for suspending the Elections is the complication of the next day (Friday 8 May) being the early May bank holiday (moved from Monday to commemorate VE day) which would probably have made counting trickier and more expensive.

  • Peter Watson 13th Mar '20 - 11:12am

    @Paul Barker “we should back that call & suspend our own canvassing”
    A good point: it would only take one report of a canvasser later found to have corona virus for the bad publicity to undo the good work of any number of leaflets.

  • Peter Watson 13th Mar '20 - 11:16am

    @Ian Sanderson (RM3)
    That’s very reassuring. I’ve found that most people I’ve told about the change to the Bank Holiday are not even aware of it so that was really why I thought I’d casually slip it in here! 🙂

  • tonyhill – “We obviously should not try to make political capital out of this situation, but if we are seen to be doing the right thing now it will be in contrast to the “herd immunity” theories being followed by the government.” – calling for tough actions is the right thing to do, but it WILL bring us political capital as a side effect, because tough actions are increasingly popular among British people. We should even brand the government’s approach as being Social Darwinist.

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 13th Mar '20 - 12:03pm

    I feel uneasy about the idea of delaying an election – It seems a dangerous precedent.
    Wouldn’t it be better if the elections were to go ahead as planned, but if there was an agreement that candidates of all parties would campaign in ways that do not involve direct contact – eg online campaigning, letters to the local paper, telephone canvassing.
    People could be encouraged to apply for postal votes, in case they are self-isolating on polling day.
    I would have thought that the risk of becoming infected at the polling station was pretty low.

  • “I feel uneasy about the idea of delaying an election – It seems a dangerous precedent.”

    It was last done in 2001 (because of a disease crisis – albeit one which didn’t affect humans) so not really unprecedented

  • Paul Barker 13th Mar '20 - 1:31pm

    If we take the higher end of current estimates of the numbers already infected then by early May 1 in 5 people could be infected, thats 1in 5 Council Staff which would hit staffing at Polling stations & Counts. Most Polling Stations see Voters getting very close to Tellers outside & Staff inside, often handing over their Polling Cards, think of the potential for infection.
    If a big chunk of Voters apply for Postal Voting in the last few Weeks Councils wont be able to cope & thats without thinking about any disruption to Postal Services as Peak Virus approaches.
    The Government are clearly wrong about this & we should say so, loudly.

  • I think it is coming to the stage where we should suspend canvassing. I can see that a 2 minute doorstep conversation may not be a high risk, but I think we have to consider the optics of sending volunteers round hundreds of doors in the current climate.

    To be blunt, the May elections are in all likelihood not going to happen, and voters have other, more immediate things on their minds at the moment.

    My concern is that we simply continue our ‘quantity over quality’ approach and think that more contacts = better, regardless of the wider PR effects of doing so.

  • An intresting take on the government frpm a Tory councillor

    Samantha Flower, who is a member of Boris Johnson’s ruling Conservative Party and also a social care manager for Sheffield City Council, said: “I’m very concerned. They [the UK government] are saying they want as many people to get this disease to create a herd immunisation. But it won’t. My suspicion is that they don’t have the money for social care or NHS so that the weak and the old die.

    “I’m saying that as a Conservative councillor and I don’t care if I get sacked. You judge a society by how they treat their vulnerable people. You judge leadership by how it treats its most vulnerable people.

    “How do we care for them – by saying it would be better for pretty much everyone to get this disease when we know that our loved ones are going to die? It’s not okay.”

    Why are our leadership so quite, there is no excuse for tagging along with the policy of Depeffle and Co. A stitch on time saves nine. A failure to act makes those that tagalong as guilty as those that set out on this reckless policy.

  • Frankie. I have previously worked as a microbiologist in various government labs, I do not agree with the statement put out by Samantha that the government is deliberately trying to kill off the elderly to save money and would hope that most people regardless of ideology would find this is idea bizarre to say the least. I hope she won’t be sacked but perhaps someone should carry out a welfare check. If she truly believes what she has said she may wish to reflect on whether she should remain a member of the party.
    What is it that you would like to see the government doing that isn’t doing at present?

    ,

  • Tynan,
    They are being driven by cost, the reason for not shutting down the schools

    School closures lasting four weeks could cut 3% from the UK’s GDP, costing the economy billions of pounds, according to research being considered by the government as it weighs up the benefits and risks of shutting down classrooms.

    Advisers at the Department for Education and No 10 are examining a range of options from complete closure of all schools and colleges in England, which would affect around 7 million children, to more nuanced policies.

    Measures being looked at include those effected in Japan, where schools sent home individual classes and age groups when a certain percentage of children were infected, and Austria, where elementary schools have stayed open to effectively act as daycare for the children of essential workers. Belgium has followed a similar path. Other countries have closed all schools.

    https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/mar/13/coronavirus-school-closures-uk-gdp-ministers-warned

    The problem they have is eventaully it will get as bad as italy and then they will panic and bite the bullet. So the “Keep going and die in an orderly manner” approach will fail.

  • Joseph, Indeed. but, we now know more about these things so there are things we can do delay for this virus is probably the best option. stop, or even contain will
    be be very expensive and that is the choice, all be it in most countries it is now too late so delay is the only option, that doesn’t mean engineering the wide scale death of the elderly or ill.

  • Countries,? I have no excuse, everybody laugh out loud.

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