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.

11 comments

  • How were we supposed to vote when one of the sites was a spoof site?! This needs to be re-done
    Properly and fairly otherwise the result is false.

    • The result is misleading anyway – this was a poll arranged, funded and timed by those who support the “Stronger Somerset” plan to break up Somerset.

      For these reasons One Somerset did not participate or encourage their supporters to vote.

      Effectively like an election in a one party state. Meaningless.

  • Had we been given an extra choice of leave things as they are the results would’ve been very different.

  • My friend feels she was mislead into voting for Stronger Somerset as she believed the untrue description of 2 councils, with no mention made of the additional 3 organisations/structures.
    One wonders both how many others votes based on the ballot sheet descriptions and how anyone, especially a firm of solicitors, thought that it was a true summary of the Stronger Somerset case. A completely dishonest exercise in terms of misleading ballot paper, lack of voting time for some and the directing of voters to a bogus site for OneSomerset.

  • Very low turnout – 75% did not even vote.

    More people didn’t vote at all in this poll than the total number of people who did vote in Somerset at the last general election.

    Remarkable that 35% voted for One Somerset despite them not participating in any way; not campaigning and not encouraging their supporters to vote.

    That’s 35% despite all the misinformation and the spoof offensive website link sent to 436,607 Somerset voters.

    The poll descended into farce and was not independent. It was funded and timed by the “Stronger Somerset” plan to break up the county. The result therefore lacks credibility and legitimacy.

  • The announcement today concerning parliamentary boundary changes, for Somerset
    Put a be new thought for a Unitary Authority (s)
    Since Midsomer Norton in in B.A.N.S
    Now is the time to ask B.A.N.S and North Somerset
    To reconsider the historic Somerset County boundary
    Come on Stronger Somerset and One Somerset get thinking and start taking

  • Arthur Richards

    It has taken a couple of days for it to sink in, but you know what? I’m really ANGRY that One Somerset, the County Council and Somerset Conservatives refused to engage with this poll. I thought the 2 Councils idea had much to commend it, but in the end I decided to support 1 Council because I think one funding pot gives 1 Council more clout, and more authority to make a go of providing high-quality services properly funded.

    However, that idea was roundly beaten. How can the Secretary of State ignore this now? Yes the turnout was low, but I’ll bet money on there being LESS who responded to the Government’s boring consultation.

    But WHY was One Somerset beaten so badly? Because those who support the idea threw a wobbly and refused to partake in democracy. That stain will be hard to remove. Contrary to what many here seem to believe I think the principle behind holding this vote is sound. I’m pleased we got the chance to have a say. I just can’t believe how stupid One Somerset and the Conservatives have been here. Own goal.

  • Arthur, Stronger Somerset delivered a leaflet through our doors to encourage us to participate in the “official” consultation process, which many of us duly did, and even to vote for them.
    Unhappy at the results Stronger Somerset then duped some people, with a misleading ballot paper and no effective link to their opposition’s argument, into voting for them in an unnecessary and after-thought voting process.
    The poll is non binding, happened after the consultation Stronger Somerset asked us to participate in, and One Somerset did not want council tax payers hard-earned money wasted on it – hardly something to blame One Somerset for.
    Also I have just checked and one of the 4 district councils involved in Stronger Somerset is Conservative, ergo your attempt to make this a party political issue is non-sensical.

    • Arthur Richards

      Rubbish. Like a football team scared of losing, they lay down on the pitch and are whining because the other team won the match!

      • Using your analogy, the ref (in this case the Secretary of State) said the game should not be played, but one side went ahead anyway. While there have been issues on both sides, spending a huge amount of public money on something that was not only flawed because of their own mistakes, but which they were told not to do in the first place, should at least result in resignations, and possibly investigations for misuse of public funds. Whichever side of the political fence you sit on, and whether you agree with the Secretary of State or not, once he had said it should not go ahead carrying on regardless became an extremely unwise decision.

      • Arthur Richards

        Correction: the referee said ‘I don’t want you to play this game, but I can’t stop you’. Important distinction!

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