Somerset poll produces no surprises
The poll run by the district councils of Somerset has just produced results. Overseen by Civica Electoral Services the result was as follows:
- Stronger Somerset 72,561 65.0%
- One Somerset 38,547 34.5%
- Votes spoiled 481 0.5%
The turnout was a very disappointing 25.6%. Whilst some have compared this to the Police & Crime Commissioner elections, this is not a fair comparison. At the PCC election, voters turn out on one day to cast their vote. In fact they have to be prepared to leave their home and go to a polling station.
For this election voters had either 2 weeks if they were unlucky, or three weeks if they were lucky, to vote. Residents could vote from the comfort of their own home and had lost of time to do so. The poor turnout in these circumstances cannot be ignored.
As we predicted, this is a deeply flawed process in which both sides have what they wanted. Stronger Somerset will ignore the turnout and simply say “we won”. One Somerset will say this was a biased poll, with only one side promoting their view. The result they will say, was an inevitable consequence of the process. They will point to the poor turnout.
The bottom line is that when The Leveller called for a referendum (in early 2020), not a single council or councillor supported that call. Neither side wanted a proper and fair referendum until it was, rather conveniently, too late. This poll has decided little and left taxpayers with a large bill to pay.
Ian Liddell Grainger is of course ardently pro Stronger Somerset. So also no surprise to hear his view which is as follows: “The Secretary of State, Robert Jenrick, might have preferred us all to go away and forget this referendum, but we didn’t. He cannot afford to ignore us now. Vox populi – vox Dei. The people’s voice is the voice of God!!” I can only assume the MP for Bridgwater and West Somerset is unaware of the origin of the phrase. Writing to advice the Emperor Charlemagne the monk Alcuin was against democracy as a dangerous ideal. He used the phrase in the context of suggesting that “the riotousness of the crowd is always very close to madness“.
Whether that judgement is relevant in this case, I will leave for others to decide.