Politicians don’t care much about turnout. That’s why most politicians and commentators don’t talk about it.
What politicians care about is winning.
There’s plenty of news right now about a “UKIP earthquake“. The BBC reports UKIP gaining 30% in an area where they had not run before. They explain excitedly the prospect of UKIP as a disruptive force. So it seems.
However, I’ve just learned that the turnout in Wycombe District — somewhat larger than the constituency — was 41,381, or 32.84%. Most of the electorate did not vote.
That’s not a UKIP earthquake. It is a landslide for disengagement.
A stalwart member of Wycombe Conservatives just called. A long-serving Royal Air Force pilot during the Cold War, he’s just returned from Normandy. He and friends had stood on the beaches reflecting what cost was borne in living memory to preserve freedom and democracy for the United Kingdom.
It is a tragic fact that politicians are once again talking to themselves while commentators encourage them to do so. We have failed to inspire the public even to throw us out.
The challenge after this election is not how to defeat UKIP. It is how to speak truthfully, hopefully and realistically to a population thoroughly disenchanted with the entire political system.
For those of us who believe prosperity and joy is to be found in right relationship with other people, it is to set out how our present circumstances are the consequence of abdicating our personal and social responsibilities to the coercive apparatus of the state. It is to explain how liberty under the law, personal responsibility, compassion and mutuality are a better basis for a good life and a good society than the old lie that everyone can live at the expense of everyone else through politics and power, law and regulation.
I don’t doubt that is the harder path. It is the one all politicians of sincerity should take.