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  • Mid morning on a mildly foggy Thursday, and the polls that would usually be busy on any national or local election day were dead as a dodo for the elections of the new Police and Crime Commissioners in 41 UK regions. The people inside my polling station, who were lovely but exceedingly bored, told me that I was only the sixteenth person to attend and vote today. This at a time when I would have expected half the regular voting to have already been done by people on their way to work and on the school runs this morning.

    I found myself more than usually disgusted by the very low turnout. For positions that are being paid £70,000 salaries from taxpayer funds and have been handed immense power over our law enforcement including whether parts of the police force will now be outsourced to private companies, this was simply not good enough! The government hadn't spent the £75 million (in excess of the £70 million this election is already costing) to ensure everyone had a leaflet, choosing instead to put a web address and phone number on the polling cards. But people could have found out. I found out in minutes who my candidates were and what they stood for, if they were independent or affiliated to parties and why the PCC's were being elected. It wasn't hard work.

    As I sat watching footage today of this week’s rioting in Spain and Italy where clashes with the police have been taking place this last day or two, coupled with the (at root political) trouble occurring between Gaza and Israel and I was suddenly furious that in contrast to those who really wanted the police on their side, not against them, while they fought for the right to have a voice, other apathetic British people, who had a peaceful life and had filled my timelines with what the police should or shouldn't be doing about the UK riots all through last summer's less peaceful interlude, were now too lazy and disinterested to spend fifteen minutes to use their vote to have their say on that exact same thing today.

    Democracy is changing around the world with too many people feeling that their vote doesn't ever count and not bothering, meaning that a very low number of people are now controlling where power gets allocated for everyone. Masses of people everywhere are too disinterested to seek information unless it’s brought onto their doorsteps, and even then they don't want it, while in strict regime nations others fight and die because their democratic rights are not being honoured. How do we face this enormous imbalance in who gets to make choices about our world? How do we maximise our individual power to truly affect how we are governed and policed and know our voices are heard and our needs will matter?

    I don’t have any answers right now except that, for starters, throwing away the rights we do have, however inadequate they may feel, is a kick in the teeth to those in the world who are completely powerless, and that an erosion of our own rights completely is exactly where we are headed unless we find a way to turn this apathy around. I feel both keenly disappointed and furiously angry at the more than 80% of English and Welsh voters who threw their vote away today.
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