Saturday, 5 May 2012

Apathy rules... OK?

This week's local council elections produced few real surprises, which I always feel accounts for why the turnout is almost invariably low (generally around the 25-30% mark).  In the absence of any particularly contentious local issues, the policies put forward by the candidates tend to reflect those advocated by their respective parties nationally, and it therefore should come as no wonder that those electors who bother to vote at all seem to take it as an opportunity to express their level of satisfaction with how the government of the day is performing.

A slightly more novel twist this time round was the addition of a referendum vote on whether our City should have an elected mayor.  Perhaps rather confusingly, we already have a Lord Mayor, which as the title perhaps possibly implies, is more of a ceremonial office.  The idea was apparently inspired by the success of London's elected mayor, the Prime Minister being reported as saying he wanted to see "a Boris in every city"!  While I can see the virtue of having a Mayor in London in overall charge of the city as a whole where the day-to-day services are provided by local Borough Councils specific to the area you live in, the same scenario isn't true of Coventry which has only one City Council.  Sceptic that I am, I could foresee at best confusion over who was elected to do what, and at worst a series of constant conflicts with the result that nothing ever got done.  Evidently I wasn't alone in that thought: the vote was almost 2:1 against the idea.

Those who wanted an elected mayor here are predictably disappointed, blaming amongst other things allegedly biased press coverage and the wording of the question on the ballot paper, while ignoring the rather obvious inference that the majority of voters either didn't want one or couldn't care less one way or the other.  At the same time, I suspect the likelihood of anyone standing who had the charisma of either Boris or Ken, probably seemed rather remote in peoples' minds. 

Meanwhile, down in London, I see Boris got re-elected - albeit by a narrow margin.  Once described, I thought rather aptly, as a "buffoon", I suppose he must be nevertheless rather a likeable one.  After all, a million people can't be wrong... can they?

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