Democracy was the real winner at ballot box, with highest turnout since 1992

(15 June, 2017)

Average turnout in the three Southwark constituencies rose 63.6 per cent in 2015 to 69 per cent

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It was the election that nobody wanted – not even the Prime Minister who called it, apparently – but it turned out to be an election where more people took part than in the past twenty years.

We never tell our readers how they should vote, and don’t believe that is the role of the press. We prefer to give you as much information as possible and let you make your own mind up.

What we do always ask, and last week was no exception, is that you take the trouble to go out and cast your vote – and while we certainly don’t take any credit for it happening, it’s fantastic to see the rise in the number who voted compared with 2015 – up from an average of 63.6 per cent across the three constituencies to 69 per cent last week. All political parties should encourage the people of this nation to go out and vote – your mandate, even with a decent majority, is diminished if the turnout is low.

Like many pundits, we had envisaged Bermondsey & North Southwark to be a close-run thing, with incumbent Neil Coyle, barely two years into the job, trying to stave off a comeback from Simon Hughes, who lost the seat after 32 years as MP. In fact, Mr. Coyle almost trebled his majority.

Sir Simon had surmised that voters punished the Lib Dems two years ago for going into coalition with the Tories – and banked on that not happening this time around. He was possibly right – as his total vote last week went up from 2015. What he didn’t foresee, as most of us didn’t, was the surge in Labour voters – as the young turned out in droves for Jeremy Corbyn’s campaign and manifesto – even if this meant voting for a vocal critic of the Labour leader (though he will also argue his local campaign paid dividends). Sir Simon tells us this week that he’s going nowhere – there will be many who read that with sadness perhaps, believing that the time is right for him to step away, after three decades of service.

The Labour surge was replicated in Camberwell & Peckham, with Harriet Harman’s majority ballooning to over 37,000, and also in Dulwich &?West Norwood, where Helen Hayes saw her majority soar to over 28,000.

All three – no fans of Corbyn until this week – have indulged in the eating of humble pie, along with many in the Labour party now keen to present a unified front. All opposed to Brexit, they will now be pushing for the government to take a more conciliatory tone with the EU.

Once upon a time, we only went to the polls every five years or so. If the Tories do manage to cobble together a working coalition with the DUP in Northern Ireland, it could still mean fresh elections within the year if it proves impossible to pass legislation. That would mean young people voting in three elections in two years, as well as a referendum. Who said democracy was dead?

 

 

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