Two ways of looking at the Merseyside PCC result
I've posted two graphs below, both of which I circulated on twitter earlier today, shortly after the Police and Crime Commissioner results for Merseyside were announced.
The first is a simple bar chart, showing the number of votes for each candidate. As any reader of this blog probably knows already, the Labour candidate Jane Kennedy won by a huge margin, securing 56% of the first preference votes.
The Conservative candidate, Geoff Gubb, leapfrogged my Liverpool University colleague, Kiron Reid, into second place when the results from the final Merseyside borough, the Wirral, were declared. The Lib Dem candidate, Paula Keaveney finished fourth, just 488 votes ahead of UKIP's Hilary Jones. The English Democrats' candidate, Paul Rimmer, finished in last place, but was probably reasonably content with his share of the votes.
However, the second chart, below, paints a rather different picture. In this instance, I've presented the figures as a pie-chart and I've included all the abstainers: the 87.3% of registered electors who opted not to cast a ballot. I've also added in the ballots which were rejected - either because voters had misunderstood how to vote, or deliberately spoiled their ballot.
Clearly, this second chart tells quite a different story. It brings the massed ranks of non-voters to the fore. Their share of the pie would be even greater if we included eligible, but unregistered electors. We have to guess at their numbers, but there will be somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 of them across Merseyside.
Some will argue that non-voters do not deserve to be foregrounded. Others will point out that nobody ever voted for the Merseyside Police Authority, so even a 1% turnout would have been an improvement. Supporters of PCCs will also say that turnout for the next set of elections to this role will be higher.
That all seems like clutching at straws to me. It's difficult to see how democracy can really mean much if 'the demos' (people) simply opt not to take part. In this instance, there seems to be overwhelming evidence that the people simply didn't want to elect police and crime commissioners. The newly elected PCCs have a lot of convincing to do.