Given what I tried to do at work to inform staff and get them access to the candidates so they can ask questions, and the Bournemouth Echo publishing some pieces about it, I wanted to do another quick blog post to catch up and close things off.
It was good to see one member of staff driving to Southampton and back that night just to cast a vote. Another person had gone to the voting booth with the intention of spoiling the paper but changed their mind at the last minute. Votes do count.
A Sea of Blue
In an area of the country that is very much a sea of blue, as in all Conservative MPs, there was a surge in Labour voters compared to the previous two elections.
This may be aligned to the national campaigns and may also be connected to the aftermath of the Brexit vote and the conjecture that the younger voters just did not turn out. Prior to the deadline for voter registration, there was a noticeable surge in the numbers of voters in the bottom two age brackets.
A Labour Surge
Although the Conservative MPs held their seats in Bournemouth East and West, the Labour candidates both had an increase of around 10,000 votes compared to 2015, which primarily came at the expense of UKIP and Green voters. The Liberal Democrats stayed around the same.
An increase in 10,000 for the Labour votes was a surprise to me given the backdrop of the local area, but probably less of a surprise given the polls and the momentum of the national campaign.
Every Vote Matters
I reiterate the point that every vote does count. There is no such thing as a safe seat. Canterbury has been a Conservative seat for 99 years but now a Labour seat with only 187 votes the difference. The SNP held the seat of Fife North East by 2 votes.
Having a “strong” government can equally mean a government that is too authoritative or one that is too complacent. We have to ensure our local MPs are held to account, and reminded to represent the whole community.
I don’t have any statistics on the younger votes but will update this when I do get them.
(These are based on estimations from Ipsos MORI survey as it is a secret ballot and no way of identifying votes and their voters.) In 2015, the 18-24 age group had a 43% turnout and the 25-34 age group a 54% turnout.
In Bournemouth East, where I live, the turnout was 65.2% compared to 62.55% in 2015. The Conservative vote went up 2.7% to 51.9%.
In Bournemouth West, where I work, the turnout was 60.8% compared to 58.45% in 2015. The Conservative vote went up by 5.3% to 53.5%.
Those are very high percentages for the Conservative vote, and both have increased since 2015. The other parties have to take the momentum of their gains and translate that into the local elections, with the added point that resident EU nationals can vote in that.
National turnout was 68.7% compared to 66.1% in 2015.
You can see an interesting graph on voter turnout on the following link, which shows turnout just fell away after the 1992 elections and have only been slowly rising since its lowest point in 2001.
Onto the Local Elections
All I can say at this moment is that I am glad there has been increased numbers across the board in terms of turnout. Too early to understand the finer details just yet, but I hope the engagement continues to the local elections in future where people can make more impact to the local area and create a more diverse spread of representation.
I thank again Conor Burns, David Stokes and Jon Nicholas on their engagement and participation with my staff and I.