17/11/2012

Ceredigion romps home in battle of the spoilt ballots



It’s very likely that Ceredigion had the highest percentage of spoilt ballot papers anywhere in Thursday’s whole miserable Police & Crime Commissioner elections.  Figures for other places are hard to come by but, looking at those I’ve seen, Ceredigion looks way out in front. In fact, judging from this report, the tally was quite possibly the highest percentage of spoilt papers in any single preference election within the UK.

With a total of 944 spoilt papers, or 10.97% (let’s call it 11%), Ceredigion certainly outstripped the other counties in the Dyfed-Powys police area. Carmarthenshire scored 3.19%, Pembrokeshire 2.5% and Powys 4.38%. These figures are still very high, bearing in mind that, at the 2007 Welsh Assembly election for example, spoilt ballots amounted to 0.6%.

There are pointers to why Ceredigion’s figure stands out so much. The county has a history of strong political engagement and radical thinking. Uniquely, neither of the two dominant parties in the county (Plaid Cymru and the Lib Dems, for those reading this from outside) were represented in the PCC election, which featured only Labour and Conservative candidates. During the election period a head of steam was generated by several prominent local tweeters calling for people to spoil their papers rather than not vote.

What bothers me is that the Conservative winner’s majority of 1,114 was so much less than the 2,912 spoilt ballots across Dyfed-Powys. However much people wanted to protest against the flawed elections, I’m pretty sure very few of them wanted the Tories to control policing here. We can now anticipate there won’t be much opposition going on from our new commissioner to the expected further police cuts.

This is probably the first time in 150 years that the Conservatives have won an election covering Ceredigion. It was for fear of this that I didn’t spoil my paper and voted Labour. Whatever the wrongs of the whole idea of a single commissioner - and there are many - and despite my own party not being represented in the elections, I am completely unable to pass up an opportunity to vote against the Tories. It’s a congenital condition. Even that didn’t work out and Dyfed-Powys became one of a series of dismal and quite surprising Labour failures in Wales.

It will be interesting to see what a non-Conservative Westminster government, should we get one, will do about the next PCC elections in four years time. In the meantime, let’s continue making the case for policing powers to be devolved to Wales so we can develop our own, more enlightened system for overseeing the police.

Image source: http://www.itv.com/news/update/2012-11-16/voters-take-pictures-of-spoilt-police-ballot-papers/

3 comments:

  1. I think it's quite sad to think that whatever the calibre of a candidate, whatever policies they or their party come up with, whatever the position for which they are standing, there are those that would vote against them, and for another, again whatever their calibre, policies etc, just because of a scribbled tree on the voting paper.

    I'm a valleys boy though and through, and I understand, and agree with, the hatred for the history of the Conservative party and it's treatment of Wales over the years. But I'd love to know what would be the advantage of voting for Christine Gwyther? Aren't we just falling for the Labour Party line - the "Donkey better than Tory", "Sending a message to London" and whatever other Bull**** they've been feeding us for a century or so?

    I spoiled because, frankly, I thought it was more important to let the powers that be know that we are unhappy with the quality of the candidates, the process and the concept than to chose between two people who would be as bad as each other but in different ways.

    Two questions:

    If the Labour Party controlled the PCC positions in Wales, do you think this would make them more or less likely to scrap the system?

    And would they be doing their utmost to get things to work despite the cuts to their already limited resources, or do you think there would be a tendency to let things break, in order to blame it on the London Conservative government? It's not as if they don't have form there...

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  2. Fair points. Christine Gwyther did have a very weak manifesto. I'm sure she'd have done her best but then blamed anything that went wrong on Tory cuts. Maybe it doesn't make much difference who the Commissioner is, other than symbolically, because the role is so woolly anyway. As to the longer-term future of PCCs, I don't think anyone knows right now and I can't answer for the Labour Party. There's now a lot of pressure on the new commissioners to show there's a point to their existence or this will have been their one and only election.

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  3. As you may be aware I spoiled (though I view my action more positively than that) by writing "Devolve Policing to the Welsh Assembly"in the space conveniently provided on the Ballot paper.

    What's the chance of Labour in Assembly now they have only one Police & Crime Commissioner. Now pressing for Policing and Justice it to be devolved

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