How turnout will turn out tomorrow


On the streets of Llangefni, on the farmyard in Llanddeusant, at the drug and alcohol support group in Bangor, I was searching for North Wales voters who will tomorrow turn out to choose a brand new Police and Crime Commssioner. I found a former Home Secretary.

David Blunkett was standing by the Cathedral in Bangor. Not your average vox pop, I thought - but let's find out what he makes of tomorrow's vote anyway.

You'll find the answer here but take it that Mr Blunkett was concerned that as few as 15% of us may choose to vote and that if he's right, then "it fails to give proper legitimacy to whoever is elected" be that in North Wales, or any other part of Wales or England come to that.

He attracted quite a crowd - many with strong feelings on what the police do and how they do it. But that doesn't mean they'll vote. One woman dismissed the new PCCs as "glorified accountants", another man on his way to a meeting stopped long enough to say he regarded the new job as "another layer, a barrier between us and the police". But the commissioners are there to be a bridge, not a barrier I said - to make sure your voice is heard by the police. "The public can raise their own voice" came the response.

As it happens he thought the candidates sounded ok - it was just he thought they'd be better off using their skills elsewhere. Some had voted, or were planning to but more had no idea who the candidates were, or knew and had no inkling what the policy differences between them really were. Some had had a leaflet, two if they were lucky, through the door. Many said they'd received nothing - including nothing from the Electoral Commission. Weren't they meant to distribute a booklet to every household in the land?

How come, I asked the Commission this morning. They said:

"The booklet was to be distributed to every household in Wales which equates to around 1.4 million homes. It is acknowledged that there would be some cases where this (delivery) may not happen, or some people may accidentally put them in recycling, lose them etc"

I wonder what what exactly 'etc' amounts to.

The Commission did point out that in the past, they've run similar campaigns and reached up to 96% of Wales' 1.4m households.

It's a pity, independent candidates argue, that all of those standing weren't given one free mailshot that might have reached anything like 96% of Wales' households. Parties can call on the faithful to knock on doors. If you're a one man band, you can't. If David Cameron believes this is "a big job for a big local figure" they ask, why deprive them of one big mailshot?

You suspect Andrew R T Davies thinks they have a point and that the boss in Westminster might have got that one wrong. He stopped short of calling it a mistake but was clear when I spoke to him today that anything which helped to inform and galvanise interest would have been welcome.

Will the turnout be as low as 15%? Or will it, in the end, turn out to be dreadfully low, rather than crushingly low and have us concluding it wasn't as bad as expected, rather than ... dreadfully low? Probably.

Let's just say that I generally warn my children to expect awful weather on holidays. At least then I'm either proved right - or have happy children.

Betsan Powys, Political editor, Wales Article written by Betsan Powys Betsan Powys Former political editor, Wales

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  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    Just wanted to say a big thank to BBC News for snubbing the Police Commissioner Vote in the amount of coverage it given to it. Hopefully the low turn out will mean that the trendy liberal left will be kept well away for the booths tomorrow resulting in PC's being able to focus on crime again instead of well PC (Political Correctness again.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    I will vote, I have always voted and will never miss a vote, however I will cast a spoiled ballot paper, I will write devolve policing and criminal justice on the ballot paper. This election is a monumental waste of money and will only go to politicise the police service. I huge mistake, one that Scotland and Northern Ireland are not repeating.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    I am off to vote after this message, and would urge everyone else to do the same. I find it amusing that Betsan is worried about low turnout. We are use to that in Wales. Surely the result is determined by the candidate who gets the most votes not by the turnout. Or have the rules changed since the last Referendum?

  • Comment number 10.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    11 Lyn D T - well done to you - at least you will have taken the time and trouble to go to the ballot box.

    One your other point, surely the police service is already politicised under the present system. The changes should be given a chance to inprove (or otherwise) policing which has had its fair share of problems over the years


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