In the Forest of Dean, the clear winner by a mile in the May 2 county council election, and all other elections, is Nobody. The same is the case throughout Gloucestershire, and probably throughout the entire country. In the eight county c0uncil divisions in the Forest of Dean, 69% of the electorate opted for nobody. UKIP came a dismal second with just 9.4%, followed closely by Labour (8%), Conservative (7.9%), then Independents (4.6%), Liberal Democrats (1.8%), Green (1.5%), and in the one seat in which it stood, the Trade Union Socialist Against Cuts candidate polled just 28 votes, or 0.04%.
Claude Mickleson, the 89-year-old TUSC candidate wrote a letter to the local newspaper citing a complete lack of media coverage a factor in his low vote. A UKIP supporter chided him in response, crowing about the purple party’s apparent victory of three county council seats. The media, which had indeed given UKIP coverage, colluded with the election officials and candidates in claiming three seats for UKIP – most of the core Forest area – interspersed with Labour spots in Coleford and Cinderford, and bracketed with Tory blue in Newent and Sedbury, with the Mitcheldean division (which stretches along the Severnside area almost to Gloucester) declaring itself Independent.
However, as the pie charts and statistics evidently show, Nobody was the indisputable, real winner in this election. And yet no one has bothered to find out why roughly two-thirds of the electorate in every division voted for Nobody. There are no statistics readily available to show how many people actively spoilt their ballot paper or wrote ‘none of the above’; there has been zero research into whether indifference or disillusionment, a mixture of the two or anything else was responsible for the massive vote for Nobody. There never is any investigation, at every election. And we’re told this is democracy and we have to accept the result.
The big question is – and I would venture this needs to be broached by Forest Unity – is why does Nobody do so well, and increasingly so, it seems? Do people want Nobody to represent them, or do they not care who does, as “they’re all the same”?
In the past 20 years we have seen the big three parties become less and less distinguishable from each other, as they compete for a narrowing range of people, those who vote. But nationalists/ fascists/ far-right-wingers are also likely to vote, if they feel someone represents them. Those on the Left or even slightly Left-leaning, in my experience, increasingly feel no one is there for them. (Labour-left and Green party advocates will disagree.)
This was certainly the case in the byelection in the Forest of Dean District Council ward of Bromsberrow & Dymock. The only parties that stood were UKIP and Conservative. But, again, Nobody won by a long chalk. FODDC also provides us with the information that two ballot papers were rejected as both boxes were ticked, while 24 appeared to be spoilt, or in official parlance “unmarked or wholly void for uncertainty”.
So, to sum up, as well as Forest Unity representing all those who share our values – including many who voted for Nobody – should Forest Unity’s task also be to challenge the claim that the candidates have been elected and have a mandate to represent us when Nobody gained three to six times the support, and should our task also be to investigate just why Nobody is so popular?