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First Time Nerves?
Posted by 31st October 2012
Oct 2012

It’s become the Government’s Get out of Jail Free card.


Accept that turnout in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections will be on the floor – but add that “first elections are always difficult”.


Today David Cameron added his name to the list – explaining at PMQs that of course this was always going to happen – it’s a “first election.”


The PM’s comments follow a week of chaos as £350,000 of English-only ballot papers went to the shredder in Wales.  Public meetings are going empty and polling is showing only 15% of people are likely to vote. And today many voters are beginning to receive direct mail from authorities – on the same day that voter registration closes.


We’ve estimated turnout at 18.5%. It was a fairly conservative estimate and many are now suggesting figures in areas without Westminster by-elections or Mayoral contests will barely enter double digits.


But we thought first elections – while bad – have never been anything like this?  So we had a look at first time elections for English Mayors.


First Time Elections – turnout for mayoral elections in England


Area Referendum 1st Election
Watford 25% 2002 – 37%
Doncaster 25% (2001) 2002 – 27%
Hartlepool 34% 2002 – 29%
Lewisham 18% 2002 – 25%
Middlesbrough 34% 2002 – 42%
North Tyneside 36% 2002 – 42%2003 – 31%
Newham 26% 2002 – 26%
Bedford 16% 2002 – 25%
Hackney 59% 2002 – 26%
Mansfield 55% 2002 – 19%
Stoke on Trent 2002 – 27% Y2008 – 19% N 2002 – 24%
Torbay 32% 2005 – 24%
Tower Hamlets 62% 2010 – 26%
Salford 18% 2012 – 26%
Liverpool / 2012 – 31%

First Time Elections – turnout for devolved elections in Wales,  Scotland and London

  First Election
Scotland 1999 – 59.10%
Wales 1999 – 46.30%
London 2000 – 34.40%

A ‘difficult first election’ does not let the government off the hook on low turnout. The relatively low figures achieved in first time elections for English mayors are a million miles away from November’s expected numbers.


The fact is the Government isn’t just repeating past mistakes. It’s thrown in some new ones for good measure.




2 Responses to First Time Nerves?

    Tom Sheldon
    2 Nov 2012

    It’s pretty ridiculous that they are politicising the police force like this. I don’t want the police focusing on perceived crime problems, I want them focusing on actual crime problems.

    Ian Sheppard
    2 Nov 2012

    I am at a loss as to what to do about this election. Firstly, I do not want an elected person interfering with the Police in any way, shape, or form.

    Secondly, do I tear up my postal vote and bin it ? – or, do I return it spoiled to show that at the very least I participated ?

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