My conversation with the ex-MP after a day’s canvassing
Over the weekend I had a long phone conversation with a former MP (not Lib Dem) who is campaigning hard for his party for the local elections in May.
He told me that to test the water on AV he began asking about the referendum which is on the same day. The responses, he recalled, were striking. Not only did the electors he spoke to not have view a significant segment were not even aware that this election was taking place.
“At house after house there was the same glazed look on people’s faces when I mentioned the subject“, he told me, “even those who were aware of the election seemed to have no feelings whatsoever about it either way. It simply did not interest them“.
He was campaigning in a ward that flips between the Tories and Lib Dems in local elections but at the general election was reasonably solid for the blues.
Okay this is anecdotal but he’s somebody I’ve known a long time and I respect his judgement. His prediction was that in places where there are not simultaneous council or devolved parliament elections the turnout is going to be ridiculously low.
A big issue is that with the news being so dominated by international events, and then the royal wedding, it’s hard to see things changing that much between now and May 5th.
Those who are turning out for other elections on the day will be handed the ballot paper which for many could be the first time they consider the issue.
What are they going to do? The outcome, I’d suggest, is much more important than a choice of voting systems. One of the coalition partners, Dave or Nick, is going to be badly damaged by the result and what could that do to the CON-LD partnership?