- 2016 EU Referendum
- Electorate: 46.2 million
- Voted: 33.6 million
- Turnout: 72.2%
- 2015 Election
- Electorate: 46.5 million
- Voted: 30 million
- Turnout: 66%
- 2010 Election
- Electorate: 48.3 million
- Voted: 29.5 million
- Turnout: 65%
- 2005 Election
- Electorate: 44.3 million
- Voted: 27 million
- Turnout: 61%
I want you to look at some figures – 10 years of general election figures. In the last 10 years between 34 and 40% of eligible voters haven’t bothered.
Labour, Conservative and even a coalition government have happened in this period along with two unelected Prime Minsters and cabinets. There is a more interesting figure though in these numbers and that’s the referendum vote – the highest percentage and numbers turnout in more than a decade (and further back if you look through the ONS data).
3 million extra people voted in the referendum – 3 million. Sadly there is no data to indicate how many extra wet liberal, Guardian readers (sounds like me) voted, however, if my experience of the voting public is anything to go by (see blog post about Michael here) then a large portion of these were the ones who pushed the UK into this difficult position with the EU by voting leave.
As pointed out earlier it’s impossible to say how these extra people affected the result but given the way it ended you suspect it was the ‘Leave’ campaign that came out in their droves. Perhaps it shows how brilliant the Leave campaign was, filled with simple messages designed to connect with the heart – rather than Remain who focused on complex numbers and the head. You don’t win with Excel spreadsheets – that doesn’t inspire people (well maybe the odd accountant).
I’m aware that the figures are always going to be a little bit out, births, deaths, inaccuracies, changing voter patterns, eligibility to vote etc but there wasn’t a 3 million voter sea change between May 2015 and June 2016. What we saw the result of people being whipped up into a frenzy of mistrust and hate on both sides – the problem was this appears to have appealed more to eurosceptics who believed the lies that have now set the UK for the biggest spanking of its life.
So where do these 3 million people go now? Back into their hidey-hole? Probably. Set to moan from the sidelines but without voting for it.
Voting shouldn’t be a right it should be mandatory, with the caveat on the ballot for a ‘none of the above’ if you want to send a strongly worded message. The difference I would enact between the UK and Australian system though is I’d suggest a gigantic fine, stopping of benefits, put in stocks in the town centre as a deterrent to not voting.
3 million additional people came out on referendum night to have their say – people who couldn’t be bothered to vote in the general election. This says much about the state of care these people give to their country.
So if you were crying out to leave the EU, if you are one of these 3 extra million, if you’ve never voted other than in the EU referendum well I hope you’re proud of yourself but you disgust me.
Sources: BBC, ONS