By-election joy, but who was there?

By Blue Labourite on Dec 16, 11 11:26 AM in Labour

Well done today to Seema Malhotra, the new MP for the west London constituency of Feltham and Heston.

The former advisor to Harriet Harman was given the nod following the death of Labour Co-op MP Alan Keen, who held the seat from 1992 until his death last month.

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But running right next to the result was the turnout figure of 28.8% - the lowest at a by-election for 11 years.

Just where were all the voters? I know it's a bit chilly and folk are busy with their Christmas prep, but less than 30%?

And after the year we've had, with people walking out on strike against ConDem cuts, losing jobs and preparing themselves for another recession, they still don't turn out just to send a message.

The Feltham and Heston battle was never going to be a litmus test for coalition, and media interest in it has been muted at best. The hacks are more concerned managing their own reputations in front of Judge Leveson, or looking for the latest spat between the PM and his sour-faced looking deputy.

But such apathy is a cause for concern. Politicians and parties have more tools than ever at their disposal to engage with potential voters, but maybe that is part of the problem. Like music from a dozen different radios, they drown each out.

I don't want to see compulsory voting - democracy by definition must allow those who want to totally ignore the political process to do so, it is their choice.

But a proper mandate rests on the majority of people being involved in the decision making process, and that's why a high turnout is always a healthy thing.

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