A View from the Bridge

THE dust is beginning to settle after the local council elections and the horse-trading is under way in earnest to form administrations in town halls the length and breadth of the country.

But to my mind there was only one real winner last Thursday - and that was apathy!

Politicians can put whatever gloss they want on the results, but there is no escaping the fact that around two-thirds of the electorate chose not to make their way to the polling stations and cast their vote.

Is it really that surprising? Certainly where I live you wouldn’t have realised there was an election taking place. No sight nor sound of a candidate in the month or so of the campaign. One single leaflet pushed through my letterbox and that was the extent of the effort to engage with this voter.

Long gone are the days when candidates came to your door promising the earth if you gave them your support.

When I arrived at my polling station in Aberdeen in the late evening, the looks on the faces of the staff said it all. A long day with a trickle of people through the door, if that.

It has been the pattern for several elections now with the public seemingly disinterested in the political process for whatever reason.

Local candidates in Ellon had a forerunner for what was to come at an election hustings meeting when only 30 people bothered to show up.

I asked my 20-year-old daughter if she was going to vote and the answer came back - ‘why would I - I don’t know who’s standing or anything about their policies, so they don’t deserve my vote.”

Fair point, but this is precisely why there is an alarming problem facing the main political parties of “lost voters.” Young people who generally speak of a lack of political engagement and a mistrust of politicians.

The abysmal turn-out last Thursday must act as a wake-up call to our political leaders.

In the meantime, new-look councils in the north-east are getting down to the task of forming administrations for what will be difficult times ahead.

The purse strings will no doubt be pulled even tighter over the next five years but councillors will have to work together to meet the formidable challenges they undoubtedly face, and ensure they get the best for all of us.