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/