SOME people rarely or never vote and seem proud of the fact.

I’m not one of them. That’s partly because the Six Nations rugby tournament and politics are my two favourite spectator sports.

And it’s because it’s the closest we ever get to democracy in action. I always enjoy the whole process of marking a cross on the ballot paper, slotting the ballot paper in the box, and knowing that in a few hours that box will be emptied and someone will be looking at my choice. Whether your candidate wins or not, you are involved and engaged.

So I was disappointed that the scheduled local elections aren’t happening here.

In February, the Government announced that the elections in Cumbria, North Yorkshire and Somerset were being postponed until next May.

This time it’s not for once because of coronavirus, but because of plans to re-organise the structure of local government in these parts.

So there will be neither district nor county council elections here, only elections for police and crime commissioner.

I’ll still vote in them. I’m one of the handful of people who do. In the last two, the staff in the polling station looked delighted to see someone turn up. This year I’ve got a postal vote so I won’t be able to alleviate their boredom in the same way.

But each time I wondered what use party political labels are among the candidates.

It’s not as if any police commissioner – whether Labour, Liberal Democrat or Conservative – is going to differ much. Are any of them likely to argue for fewer police officers, or less money for Cumbria Constabulary, or that we spend too much time and effort on crime fighting?

I’m sure Loraine Birchall, Barbara Cannon and Peter McCall are all fine people who would do a good job. But how can you really tell them apart?

Sometimes members of town or parish councils have party labels – but it can surely make little difference at that level either.

Some town and parish councils are very active. Workington’s town council has always seemed to me to be one of the busier ones, one that does a lot for the town.

But it varies from place to place. In some areas, a parish council sets up park benches and hanging baskets and maybe a website with visitor information, and complains about new housing, but does little else. You have to wonder why political allegiances could or should make any difference.

Does a Tory-run parish council paint the park benches blue? Does a Labour one plant more red flowers in the hanging baskets?

Once I had to cover town council elections in a small town in Cambridgeshire. All the members had been Conservative, but one Labour candidate got in that time and told me he had “ended the one-party state”. He made it sound as if, before he won his seat, armed police would wander the streets and demand to see people’s papers.

I could never understand why Ukip put up candidates in elections to the European parliament if they felt we shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

But it seemed all the more daft for them to contest local elections. It’s not up to Cumbria County Council or Carlisle City Council whether we stayed in the European Union.

Local elections are happening elsewhere, of course. The London mayoral elections could have held more interest for Cumbrians if Rory Stewart had been standing – as he had said he would.

Several people will remember him as MP for Penrith and the Border, and a Remainer.

When Boris Johnson carried out his purge of 21 remain-minded Tory MPs, he got the sack. Then in October, 2019, Mr Stewart re-emerged and announced he was to going to stand as an independent for London mayor, promising to visit every borough in the capital as part of his campaign.

The bookies gave him odds of 2/1, but in May the following year, he decided against it. I didn’t blame him. Have you seen the prices of London travel cards?

Of course, some non-voters like to denounce politicians and claim that they’re all the same. To me, that’s lazy, unenlightened and an insult to the thousands of Britons who died fighting fascism.

If they really believe they’re all the same then they need their eyes tested. They should have gone to SpecSavers or Vision Express, or Dollond & Aitchison or an independent optician.

It’s their choice. And that’s the whole point of voting.