Last week we reported the launch of the Vote for Policies 2015 election website. Crowdfunded by 882 backers, match funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust and staffed by volunteers, their simple but ambitious aim is to get five million people to use the site.
Five million people using the voteforpolicies.org.uk site would represent more than one in ten of 2010’s 46 million electorate and one in six of the 30 million who actually chose to vote.
16 million choosing not to vote?
On average, a staggering 24,000 voters in each constituency chose not to exercise their democratic right to vote in 2010 (15.6 million nationally). The highest of this non-turnout phenomena was 49,020 voters (54% of the electorate!) in Manchester Central, won by Labour’s Tony Lloyd (who stepped down in 2012 to be the inaugural Police and Crime Commissioner) with 21,059 votes. The lowest non-turnout was 5,244 voters (8% of the electorate) in Somerset North, won by the Conservative’s Liam Fox with 57,941 votes.
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Six million not registered to vote
More staggeringly still, the Electoral Commission estimates that around six million other potential voters were not registered to vote in 2010, or 9,230 possible voters per constituency. That’s more than the majority of 373 MPs (57% of the House of Commons).
Averaged out, the number of people not registered to vote added to those choosing not to vote (over 33,000) exceeded every single Member of Parliaments’ majority in 2010. The highest majority of 27,826 was for Labour’s Stephen Timms in East Ham. Obviously an average is flawed with many caveats, but it’s still bewildering how little of the potential electorate actually mattered or voted in the last election.
Russell Brand’s call not to vote has already won election after election by any standard.
Five million policy-informed voters
Five million people using voteforpolicies.org.uk would mean there would be 7,692 voters informed policy-by-policy in each constituency, on average. The average majority in constituencies is 8,356. 334 MPs have majorities of less than 7,692. Majorities will be cut with more active minor parties.
Imagine a country with over 50 million votes cast, all based on actual policies rather than personalities
50 million voters would be an electoral army that would terrify the political establishment, comfortable as it is with generous benefits, in safe seats, propped up by apathy, disillusionment, and misplaced tribal loyalties.
If you’re aged 16 or over and are a British, Irish, EU or qualifying Commonwealth citizen you can register to vote here: https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. You’ll just need you national insurance number (if you have one).
You can read the outcome of the 2010 Vote for Policies results in Blue & Green’s The People’s Manifesto here.
Photo: Khairil Zhafri via Flickr