Opinion: Why are Jesmond voters so apathetic?
It’s a chance to pass judgement on the performance of councillors and for many even the national Government.
But in previous years the message coming through loud and clear has been “we just don’t care”.
For the last few elections the numbers voting in both Jesmond wards has been poor to say the least. In 2011 turnout in South Jesmond was the lowest in the entire city, at 30.1%. North Jesmond was slightly better, at 30.9%, but still the third lowest in Newcastle.
So less than one in three could be bothered to get out and cast their vote. And who would bet it will be any better this week? Apathy is reigning, despite the fact we are in the worst financial crisis since the 1930s.
Why might that be? Complacency? Is Jesmond less affected than other areas by the recession? Or are people just totally disillusioned with all forms of authority after the scandals of recent years?
Whatever the reasons, it is not a healthy situation. Clearly councillors need to do more to enthuse the voters and get them into polling stations, but the electorate also needs to take responsibility. It is a chicken and egg scenario. If we show we are prepared to use our voice en masse then councils will be more likely to listen to what we are saying, and put more effort into the whole process.
We all have responsibilities as part of a civil society, and one of the biggest is using your vote.
Even if you only go in and spoil your ballot paper, if you can’t face voting for any one of the candidates standing, that would send a message. And a message does need to be sent other than “do what you like, we just don’t care”.