to see full breakdown of votes spreadsheet click here. The source for these figures is the Democracy Dashboard
A new grassroots movement is on the rise, one which poses no less a threat to our democracy than big money and the imminent one party rule of Theresa May.
It has stolen upon us unawares. We as members of centre-left parties, have been so busy fighting one other to a standstill, insisting that ‘only our party’ has all the answers, ‘only our party can save us from the Tories’ that we were oblivious to the fact that a large part of the audience was already bored. Some were asleep and many had walked out. They just didn’t see the relevance of party politics for when they did vote nothing changed anyway.
In the 2015 General Election, the Non-Voting Party in Cornwall would have won two seats: Camborne-Redruth and the St Austell-Newquay constituencies.
They gained approximately 30% of the vote – exactly the same as the Tories who now have six seats in Cornwall. Perhaps it is no accident that these figures mirror each other: the more power leaches upwards through the draw of Big Money to corrupt and co-opt party agendas, game election results, and manipulate mainstream media, the less relevant voting becomes.
Big party donors dominate the Conservative party and their agenda aligns with right wing media magnates whose newspapers and TV channels are a mouthpiece for the Conservatives. Far from being the so-called ‘guardians of our democracy’ that hold our government to account, it is our government that dances to the tune of a rabid, right wing media – a shrill, harsh screech of blame directed at the homeless, the migrant, the benefit claimant, the public sector worker, the single mother and now above all… the European Union. The name of the media game is to divert public anger, sow confusion, point them in the wrong direction – but never, ever tell them the facts.
Research suggests that those who don’t vote are the young and the poor – hardly natural Conservative territory. But it would be wrong to infer that this is natural territory for centre-left parties either. Many have been ignored for far too long and only receive a knock on the door at election time. These are the new hunting grounds of the far right and while the Conservatives may benefit from the collapse of UKIP in the short term, be sure that a newly invigorated far right movement will re-form, find its voice and actively recruit from the ranks of the excluded and disenfranchised; those whose voter apathy has turned to anger.
This is a race against time. Whatever the result of this election, centre-left parties need to do two things: the first is to develop cross party co-operation to build a far reaching agenda for change in response to the fallout from Brexit in two years time.
The second is to actively reach out to the non-voting public and listen carefully to what they have to say, what their hopes are, what they want for themselves and their community, and not seek to impose scripted answers, soundbytes or party slogans in response. This is not about winning an argument but building a relationship. it is about restoring a direct link between the life of a community and the elected representatives who act on their behalf. What we have now is the opposite: parties as vote winning machines overseen by a command-and-control structure that deploys all the marketing and media tools at their disposal in order to win power. Winning power is important but it should not be the sole aim. Centre left parties must find a different way of doing politics, one that is about building relationships as the basis for winning power.