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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Make politics fun or we’ll all lose

It's always a lovely surprise when Vladimir Putin wins an election.

We’ve had a few elections in the past week, in Russia and America – and also in Cumbria.

But you might have missed that last one.

It was a county council by election held in the Liberal Democrat stronghold of Carlisle’s Castle Ward.

The election was won by Labour’s Willie Whalen in what is being hailed as a coup for the party. But the result should be closely examined by all involved in local politics.

It offers worrying window onto a world of apathy and casual disregard by voters or council taxpayers.

Mr Whalen won the election by registering 407 votes – 38 more than his LibDem rival Olwyn Luckley.

Castle has 4,537 voters, but just 1,003 people bothered to vote last Thursday and eight of those were rejected as invalid.

With so few people bothering to show an interest or have a say in how their local services are run, surely it is time for a complete overhaul of the system.

It has to be made more interesting, more involving and more worthwhile to people.

Otherwise, what local services are provided and how they operate will just be decided on the whim of the best organised party group and will have nothing to do with representing the people they have to serve.

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