Vote Reform, get Reform

Emma Guy Reform Mid Cheshire with Emily Pankhurst statue in Manchester

Now that the local elections are over and the dust has settled, it’s time to reflect on what happened during campaigning and ask a really important question. 

Is anyone else fed up with the narrative ‘vote Reform, get Labour’?

We heard it so often in the run-up to the polling that it even became a hashtag in its own right, and was used extensively, predominantly by conservatives, to try and stop their voters defecting to Reform.

What never seemed to cut through on social media was the fact that this is nonsense. A vote for any party is a vote for that party and that party alone. It’s not a proxy vote for anyone else. We don’t currently have proportional representation and none of the votes were transferrable, so whether people thought this a ‘clever’ thing to say or not, it was factually incorrect. 

As a statement, it also fails on a second point; namely that it is rooted in the belief that we are stuck with a two party system in this country which will never change and moreover, cannot change. This, of course, is also nonsense.

The Mayoral and local elections demonstrated quite clearly that almost 40% of all the available seats went to anyone other than conservatives or labour and that, apart from anything else, should give all of us hope that we can change the system.

In the Blackpool South by-election, where Mark Butcher stood for Reform and gained the highest percentage vote we have seen in any by-election to date (16.9%), the turnout was just 32%, meaning a full two thirds of everyone eligible to vote simply didn’t bother. Had more people turned out, would we have been able to win a greater vote share? That much is unclear, but it still leaves the question of why people stayed at home.

Why don’t people vote?

In researching this I came across a post on social media suggesting that more women than men failed to vote in the recent elections, and that struck me as strange. As many of you may already know, I often turn to Emily Pankhurst for inspiration and in this case, I went down a little rabbit hole on when women actually got the vote. I ended up on this Wikipedia page which contains some astonishing facts

I’m willing to bet that some of these dates surprised you. Would you have known (or guessed) some of the countries that didn’t grant women the vote until relatively recently? I was shocked. Whilst some countries were not a surprise, I hadn’t realised that before women were granted the right to vote in the U.K. in 1918, they already had the right in what were former U.K. colonies such as Australia and New Zealand. Even the Pitcairn Islands seemed more advanced, granting suffrage to women in 1838!

Emma Guy Reform Mid Cheshire with Emily Pankhurst statue in Manchester
Emma Guy Reform Mid Cheshire with Emily Pankhurst statue in Manchester

Digging a little deeper in my research it turned out that those who failed to vote split broadly equally between women and men. The low turnout was not determined by biological sex.

Looking back at the last set of fully analysed data from the Electoral Commission, their report on the 2023 local elections confirmed that overall the turnout for these was just 32%, almost seven in ten people, women and men, eligible to vote, simply didn’t bother.

The reasons they gave varied, but fell broadly into four groups.

  1. A lack of time or being too busy at work (15%)
  2. A lack of interest or being fed up with politics (13%)
  3. Medical reasons (8%)
  4. Being away on polling day (8%)

Lower down the list, 6% simply forgot and 5% said they didn’t trust politicians. Alarmingly, another 4% said the parties didn’t represent their views and a further 4%, that there was no point in voting as it wouldn’t make a difference to the outcome. And if proof were ever needed that the current two party system is long past its sell by date, it’s there in black and white. On top of this, a further 3% didn’t vote because they don’t possess any I.D. and 1% because they objected to being forced to show I.D. to prove who they were. Given the current question marks over postal voting fraud, it begs the question of whether voter I.D. was a solution looking for a problem.

Both Labour and the so called Conservative Party have failed to properly govern this once beautiful country. They have wasted the last quarter of a century and have presided over a slow decline into mediocrity. They have created an environment where minority groups and minority views garner all the headlines and normal rational people are sidelined and left to wonder what has become of the society they grew up in and fondly remember.

We are slowly losing our way as a society. Our values seem to be eroding by the day, our laws are turned against us and violence stalks the streets of our capital. 

Something needs to change and change urgently.

Before the next election, we need to carefully examine the policies, ideas and plans of each of the parties standing and encourage people to vote for the one that most relates to them and their families. The policies that will bring jobs, prosperity and a stable society in which to raise our children and grandchildren.

And by the time the election is called (come on Rishi, get on with it…) we should be able to put to bed the myth of voting reform and getting Labour. In fact, come the next election we should be promoting:

Vote Labour, get Labour

Vote Conservative, get Conservative 

Vote Reform, get Reform