Democracy Depends Upon Our Election Vote

The most troubling trend I have observed is the numbers of potential voters who believe their voice has been undermined.

This article appeared in the print edition of the Evening Telegraph: 09/12/2019 Available:  [Accessed: 2019, Dec 10]

There was a time when General Elections took place in or around every five years but, alas, this Thursday we will go to the polls for third time in four years. I look forward to the day when our political dialogue returns to solving domestic anomalies like the inequitable levels of poverty, the tragic loss of lives to drugs and the numbers of rough-sleepers dying every week on our streets. I do miss hearing about radical approaches to social security, fair employment, public health and housing policy.

I am not saying that the constitutional debates that have dominated the previous three elections are unimportant. It is no secret I have strongly held views on these issues but I believe that systemic and social transformation is being hamstrung to the extent that a number of domestic areas in Scottish and UK politics are sliding out of the limelight. A recent Ipsos Mori survey revealed that 57% of people said Brexit was the most important political issue. No other issue accrued more than 3% support.

With Brexit front and centre, I have consistently said I believe the Conservatives will secure a majority since the General Election was announced. It is undeniable the EU referendum in 2016 played a big part in the Conservatives’ resurgence in Scotland, soaring from 1 to 13 seats in 2017, especially when you look at the location of the areas taken. And it is undeniable that the independence referendum in 2014 played a part in SNP’s resurgence in Scotland, as they leapt from 6 to 56 seats in 2015.

One fascinating survey of over 20,000 individuals was the national polling carried out by UnHerd Britain and Focaldata, which sought to identify the issues evading prominence in the election campaign. Questions were asked about the monarchy, gender, immigration, religion, freedom and taxation. The clearest revelation in the constituencies of Dundee East and West was the declining support for the monarchy as both were among the 30 least royalist constituencies, out of 632, in Britain.

On other matters, a majority disagreed that immigrants should be free to move and work here or that all morals are grounded in religion whereas a majority agreed there should be no limits on free speech and that higher earners should pay more tax. The one area of divergence was on gender, perhaps revealing something of the national uncertainty. In Dundee West, a majority disagreed that it is acceptable for children to make a decision about their gender identity but a majority in Dundee East agreed.

The most troubling trend I have personally observed is the numbers of disaffected potential voters, neither of whom are exclusively remain or leave, who believe their democratic voice and political choice has been undermined. I would not dictate how anyone should vote but even if to spoil your ballot I believe turning up at the polling station this Thursday, more than any other time in history, is vital to democracy.