I love a bit of post, it’s a nostalgic connection to a sepia-edged past I was never part of. Sadly my post generally consists of bills and junk mail telling me how I can get a credit card with a picture of a baby’s face on it.
I do get a few letters as regular readers of this blog will be aware and last week I got something that for the first time in ages made me pause for longer than the customary 0.05 seconds I devote to junk mail.
It was a polling card to vote in the upcoming Police and Crime Commissioner elections. The reason it made me take notice was for the first time ever I thought ‘I might just not bother.’
I’m clearly not alone in this, the electoral reform society expects voter turnout to be as low as 18.5%, that’s less than one in five people voting on a flagship Government policy that is expected to cost around £75million.
I like to think of myself as being fairly well-informed when it comes to current affairs and politics but I have no idea who the people standing for election are or any of their policies.
In an age when there are so many ways of reaching out to people why do we know nothing about the people who are to be elected to shape policing in our communities?
I image people are more likely to be able to name three swing states in the American presidential elections than they are Police and Crime Commissioner nominees.
Apart from the poll card I have received nothing else about the elections, no information pack about what they mean, nothing from the candidates, no knock on the door, no approach over the various social networks I regularly check – and I’ve seen very little in the local papers.
I’ve checked the Northumbria Police website and all I can find is a picture of the four candidates, their political allegiance and three paragraphs about their background.
If the Police and Crime Commissioner elections were a PR campaign it would be nothing short of a complete failure.
And with no real knowledge about any of the candidates is it really worth me voting? My vote would simply be along party political lines and not necessary for the best candidate.
Franklin Rooservelt said: “Democracy cannot succeed unless those who express their choice are prepared to choose wisely. The real safeguard of democracy, therefore, is education.”
With democracy so highly prized around the world that people are prepared to die for it more needs to be done to educate people and protect it as we can only choose wisely if we’re given the facts.
People need to be better informed and to see that their views make a difference, or the apathy displayed when it comes to choosing a police commissioner might just extend to other areas of democracy.